Kenya is positioning itself to act as a bridge between Africa and the people of the Caribbean.The country is already planning to host the first ever conference that will bring together the African Union member countries and the nations that are members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The conference will be held in Nairobi next year just ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting that will held in Rwanda’s capital Kigali.
The announcement of the conference to bring together Africans of the continent and those from the Caribbean was made on Wednesday in Nairobi when President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted the Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley.
PM Mottley, who is in the country on a state visit, was received in an elaborate reception ceremony complete with a 19-gun salute before she held talks with Kenyatta.
The two leaders later led bilateral talks between their respective delegations before witnessing the signing of two agreements between Kenya and Barbados.
One of the agreements signed was for the avoidance of double taxation.
The other agreement was a Memorandum of Understanding on Health that will among other provisions allow Kenyan universities to enter into partnerships with Barbadian institutions for training health professionals.
Speaking to the press shortly after the bilateral talks, PM Mottley said her country is eager to have Kenya Airways fly to Barbados and onwards to North America as part of efforts to link the two regions.
“It boggles the mind that despite all the time there has been no attempt to deepen the relationship between the two regions,” the Barbadian leader said.
She said Barbados will appoint an Ambassador to Kenya in April next year as she invited Kenyan investors to explore opportunities in her country and use it as a launching pad for the larger Caribbean market.
PM Mottley said Kenya and Barbados are exploring partnerships in a number of areas including tourism where Kenya is a world leader as a safari destination while Barbados tops in beach tourism.
In the field of education and culture, the Barbadian leader said a number of Kenyan schools have been chosen to twin with institutions in her country so that the youth can learn from each other.
“It is good to know about each other but it is much better to know each other. The youth are more inquisitive and they will grow up when they know each other,” the Prime Minister said.
She said the current crop of African and Caribbean leaders have a responsibility to bridge the gap that has existed for centuries between Africa and the Africans in the diaspora.
Kenyatta said PM Mottley’s visit is historic since it is the first visit by a Barbadian leader to East Africa.
He said he is ready to champion and forge close links between Africa and the people of the Caribbean noting that Kenya and Barbados will soon sign an air services agreement to lay ground for direct flights between the two countries.
The President confirmed Kenya’s readiness to host a conference that will bring together African Union member countries and CARICOM nations next year where issues of mutual interest between the two regions will be discussed.