Kenya, Burundi deepen trade ties for united East African Community

Tuesday June 01 2021
Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye, President Uhuru Kenyatta

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta during a press conference at the State Lodge in Kisumu, western Kenya, on May 31, 2021. PHOTO | CAROLINE WAFULA | NMG

By Caroline Wafula

Kenya and Burundi on Monday signed several deals aimed at deepening trade and development, following talks between Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Evariste Ndayishimiye at State Lodge Kisumu, western Kenya.

Addressing the press shortly after the bilateral talks, President Kenyatta said the agreement is primarily aimed at fostering sustained socio-economic development.

“The cooperation between our countries is built on a solid foundation of shared values and principles - to foster sustained socio-economic development and transformation, a vibrant and united East African Community and an integrated and prosperous Africa,” he said.

Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye, President Uhuru Kenyatta

Burundi's President Evariste Ndayishimiye and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Kisumu port, western Kenya, on May 31, 2021. PHOTO | CAROLINE WAFULA | NMG

On trade and investment, the two nations explored the immense untapped potential to expand value and volume.

Their ministers of trade were directed to review and address bottlenecks and barriers inhibiting trade, as well as use of Lake Victoria for transport and as a source of livelihoods.


President Kenyatta said they had productive consultations on strengthening and deepening trade ties for a united and vibrant East African Community (EAC). They agreed to renew a joint permanent commission for cooperation signed in 2008.

The countries’ ministers will soon convene the next session under EAC and discuss expeditious implementation of the old and new technical cooperation agreements.

Public service

The agreements signed by President Kenyatta and President Ndayishimiye, who were accompanied by their respective Cabinet members, included an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on agriculture, livestock and fisheries, and another on public service.

They will guide joint capacity building and development through leadership training in public service.

The two also signed an MoU on foreign affairs, which seeks to promote political consultations and development cooperation, and one on sports culture and heritage, which will enhance sports and cultural tourism, as well as promote people-to-people relations.

Kenya and Burundi also agreed to prioritise education.

On regional cooperation, they liberated on development matters in the EAC and reaffirmed their commitment to work together in championing the community’s 2023 integration agenda.

They also agreed to continue working together at the United Nations level in advancing the common African agenda for integration and sustainable development.

Burundi's gratitude

In his address, President Ndayishimiye described the visit as a great opportunity for the two countries to strengthen their friendship and cooperation.

He lauded Kenya's role in peacekeeping initiatives in Burundi, facilitation of trade through the port of Mombasa and business investments. He also praised President Kenyatta for his personal involvement in political advancements in Burundi.

"Burundi fully appreciates the state of cooperation between the two countries and is hopeful that the agreements signed will effectively be implemented for mutual benefit," he said.

President Ndayishimiye said a permanent joint commission between countries remains the best mechanism for accomplishing these goals.

"There is still room for improvement to complete the remaining integration steps," he said.

The Burundian leader invited Kenyan businessmen to invest in his country, saying there are opportunities in sectors including agriculture, service, health, education, tourism, transport, banking and ICT.

He said that following the successful General Election last year, Burundi has regained peace, security and stability and is no longer on the agenda of the UN Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council.

“We are committed to improve the business climate and encourage you to take advantage of the business opportunities available,” he said.

Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye, President Uhuru Kenyatta

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Kisumu County, western Kenya, on May 31, 2021. PHOTO | CAROLINE WAFULA | NMG

Other engagements

The Burundi President arrived in Kisumu on Monday morning accompanied by First Lady Angeline Ndayishimiye. He was received by Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Leader Raila Odinga at the Kisumu International Airport.

President Ndayishimiye was given 40 high grade cows after the talks with President Kenyatta.

Ms Ndashimiye and Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta were scheduled to visit the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, popularly known as Russia hospital, on Monday afternoon, and later the Impala sanctuary for a cultural event.

They will be joined by Dorothy Nyong'o and Equity Bank Group’s Chief Commercial Officer Polycarp Igathe for a tree planting event at the hospital.

Some 7,000 trees will be planted in collaboration with Kisumu County health workers, in line with Equity's plan to plant 35 million trees, and in support of the government’s agenda to increase Kenya's forest cover to 10 per cent by 2022.

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