Kenyans traveling to Mozambique will now not be required to acquire visas before visiting the Southern African nation, thanks to a visa waiver agreement signed between the two countries on Wednesday. Similar courtesies will be extended to Mozambicans coming to Kenya.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Mozambican counterpart, President Filipe Nyusi, witnessed the signing of a bilateral agreement to abolish visa requirements for citizens of both countries in order to ease trade and travel between the two nations.
And, speaking while addressing a Kenya-Mozambique business forum in Nairobi, the two leaders challenged the private sector to exploit the huge trade potential that exists between the two countries.
President Kenyatta decried the slow pace of growth in trade between the two nations in spite of the large market and numerous investment opportunities.
In 2017, Kenya's imports from Mozambique were worth$31 million while exports were valued at $12 million.
He said the two nations have so far largely traded in manufactured goods, an encouraging sign that Africa’s industrial sector is picking up.
“Kenya and Mozambique are similar because they both work with the private sector,” said President Kenyatta as he encouraged the business community to take advantage of the bilateral agreements and favourable trade policies in the two countries.
President Kenyatta challenged Kenya’s private sector to diversify its exports and to also tap into new investment opportunities in Mozambique, including in the lucrative mining, oil and gas sectors.
The President said Kenyan cement companies have now started importing coal from Mozambique, which also has vast deposits of natural gas, indicating that trade between the two countries is growing.
He also invited companies and traders from Mozambique to invest in Kenya’s expanding economy which is open, safe and friendly for business.
The two leaders said improvement in infrastructure will boost Intra-Africa trade, which is still very low.
President Kenyatta said he will work closely with President Nyusi for the successful implementation of all agreements signed between the two nations.
On his part, President Nyusi said Kenya and Mozambique have strong bonds because they share a history stretching back to more than a millennium and that the people of the two nations are related.
President Nyusi urged the private sector in both nations to spearhead the expansion of economic partnerships between the two nations, especially in sectors such as agriculture, agribusiness, minerals, tourism among others.
“We should enhance partnership between our private sectors,” said President Nyusi, who noted that his country can share its experience in fishing with Kenya.
He said Mozambique will participate in the upcoming Blue Economy Conference to be held in Nairobi from Monday next week. President Nyusi will lead the Mozambican delegation at the conference where 11 Heads of State and 8,000 delegates are expected to attend.
The Kenya-Mozambique business forum was also attended by Deputy President William Ruto and Cabinet Secretary for Trade and Industry Peter Munya among other government officials.
President Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta later hosted a State Banquet in honour of President Filipe and the Mozambican First Lady, Isaura Nyusi, at State House, Nairobi.
Speaking during the banquet, President Kenyatta said the cultural and language similarities that Kenya and Mozambique share make it easier for its people to interact.
"We are one people bound by a common history, one culture and love for one Africa,” said President Kenyatta.
He said the similarities of culture, language and people is testament to the rich heritage.
The similarities in language was demonstrated by President Nyusi who, during his speeches at the various functions, would sometimes switch to Kiswahili, in which he is very fluent.
President Kenyatta said that Kenya and Mozambique will, beside their economic partnership, work together in fighting terrorism and other forms of organised crimes.
President Nyusi said he was impressed by the democratic space in Kenya and encouraged President Kenyatta to continue fostering the principle of separation of powers, which is the cornerstone of democracy.
He said that Mozambicans will always remain grateful for the role Kenya played in bringing the Mozambican civil war to an end.
"Kenya, to Mozambique, is not just another country. It is part of our history," he said.
He praised Kenya as a land of champions including the first African Woman Nobel Laureate Prof Wangari Maathai and legendary athletes like Kipchoge Keino.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was also among the dignitaries who attended the dinner at State House.
President Nyusi is on Thursday scheduled to visit Mombasa and Kwale Counties.
In Kwale, he is expected to interact with members of the Makonde Community, who were officially given legal recognition as Kenya's 43rd ethnic group by President Kenyatta last year.
The Makonde came to Kenya from Mozambique in the 1950s.