Kenya’s help toward combating Ebola virus in Liberia has enhanced better relations after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta signed an agreement to establish a commission that will promote business and diplomatic interactions between the two nations.
President Kenyatta welcomed the signing for the setting up of a Joint Commission for Cooperation and the Memorandum of Understanding on Political Consultations.
He said the agreement will provide the necessary legal and political framework essential for enhancing mutually beneficial commercial, cultural and diplomatic exchanges, observing that the level of engagement between Kenya and Liberia, particularly in trade, has been relatively low but holds much promise.
“It is up to us and our delegations to move with speed, identify potential sectors for cooperation and develop strong and sustainable frameworks in order to accrue tangible benefits for our citizens,” President Kenyatta said.
President Sirleaf also thanked Kenya for supporting her country to eradicate Ebola. She said Kenya proved to be a true friend to Liberia when it sent medical staff to assist in the fight against the killer virus.
“You will always know your genuine friends when passing through tough times. Kenya stood with us when we were confronted by Ebola. We will always remain indebted to you,” she said.
Kenya sent 170 volunteer health workers to Liberia and Sierra Leone last January to help combat the scourge.
The team played an important role in the efforts that contained the virus, culminating in the World Health Organization’s declaration that Liberia was Ebola-free on May 9.
President Sirleaf was at State House, Nairobi, where she led her delegation at a bilateral meeting with President Kenyatta and senior Kenya Government officials at the start of her one-week State Visit in the country.
President Kenyatta said the courtesy call by his counterpart provided an opportunity to rejuvenate the enormous potential between the two countries, built on a foundation of common values of mutual cooperation and interests.
The two Presidents also signed a Bilateral Air Services Agreement to revitalise the air transport connectivity between the two countries.
The Kenyan leader singled out agriculture as one area where Kenya could share its experience with Liberia.
He said: “We can leverage our vast knowledge particularly in the livestock sub-sector to provide capacity building, share best practices in disease and pest control and cooperate in research and technology transfer.”
President Kenyatta said Liberia – which is home to the second largest maritime registry in the world – has a wealth of experience in maritime affairs that Kenya could benefit from.
To boost intra-Africa trade, President Kenyatta emphasised the need for increased air transport connectivity within Africa and expressed satisfaction that the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Air Services between Kenya and Liberia has seen significant improvement in air transport.
“Kenya Airways now flies from Nairobi to Monrovia, easing the movement of people, goods and services between our two countries,” he said.
President Kenyatta commended Liberia for joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the main decision-making body in the global trade system.
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He further said Kenya looked forward to working closely with Liberia and other African countries within WTO to ensure that the needs of the continent are addressed.
On her part, President Sirleaf said she was also in Kenya to attend the WTO meeting and make her country’s voice heard at the world body.
She agreed that time was ripe for Kenya and Liberia to explore new areas of engagement. Additionally, she commended Kenya for its strides in the education sector and that her government will emulate the
“Kenya has excelled in providing quality education to its young people. That is one area Liberia is looking forward to borrow a leaf from Kenya,” President Sirleaf said.
On the fight against terrorism, President Kenyatta called for concerted and sustained efforts by the international community to ensure that agents of terror are effectively eliminated.
He said Kenya will continue to explore new and innovative ideas to purge the threat.
Ms Sirleaf, who arrived on Friday, will join Kenyans in celebrating Jamhuri Day on Saturday.
Thereafter, she will attend the World Trade Organisation (WTO) conference next week at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).
On Monday, the visiting Head of State is expected to attend the first edition of the International Forum on Women in Business.
The event, being held in conjunction with the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference, aims to place focus on the role of women in trade and global economy.
On Tuesday, she will attend the official opening of the WTO meeting, including several other official engagements before flying back to Liberia.
This will be Ms Sirleaf’s first State visit to Kenya since she was elected as the first female president in Africa, and Liberia, in 2006.
She was, however, in Kenya in the 1980s in exile fearing political persecution after then President William Tolbert was killed in a coup.
Ms Sirleaf won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for “for non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work."