By Samuel Ouma
President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal has announced his government’s intention to reposition Kenya as the anchor for his country’s growing investments in the African continent.
In a media address after a bilateral meeting with a Kenyan delegation led by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Lisbon on Tuesday, President de Sousa said Nairobi is best suited as the entry point for Portuguese commercial interests in Africa.
The President of the Portuguese Republic said Kenya’s stellar profile on the international stage, including its membership of the UN Security Council, the leadership of the East African Community, and the role it plays in the African Union, makes Nairobi a perfect commercial partner for the southern European nation.
“We see Kenya as an intermediary in major international issues. Kenya has been the co-host of this major conference, the UN Oceans Conference. This demonstrates that this is a young country with a future. A country that looks far ahead into the future,” President de Sousa said through a translator.
The Portuguese leader also spoke about Kenya’s credentials as a guarantor of peace and stability on the African continent, describing the country as a mediator and arbiter whose “role in regional and world peace cannot be overlooked”.
He said Kenya and Portugal enjoy a growing friendship primarily fuelled by their shared history of being “platforms for the contact between different civilizations and cultures”.
“Our relationship has been growing constantly bilaterally and multilaterally, and therefore, we were able to co-host this UN Oceans Conference. Portugal would have been impossible to organize this conference without Kenya’s help.
“We share the same principles regarding major problems facing humanity. We defend multilateralism. We defend the role of international organizations. We defend the role of dialogue and tolerance. We defend the construction of peace in all circumstances, and we are working towards that,” President de Sousa said.
On his part, President Kenyatta said his visit to Portugal and meeting with President de Sousa would help cement the strong ties between Nairobi and Lisbon through an increased flow of investments and people-to-people exchanges.
He applauded Portugal’s support in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism in Africa and termed Lisbon as a global “calming voice”.
“I also congratulate you (President de Sousa) and Portugal’s support for multilateralism. We believe in a multilateral system. We believe in compromise, and Portugal is the same. I congratulate you Mr. President, on what I term as Portugal’s calming voice. A voice of calm that is going to become more and more important in a very intransigent world that we are facing,” President Kenyatta said.