Barbados and Kenya have signed three major agreements.
They are an Air Services Agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding in the Establishment of a Joint Committee on Trade Investment, and a Memorandum of Understanding in the Development of the National Botanical Garden.
The documents were signed on Wednesday evening at Hilton Barbados, by Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins; Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, and Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, Adrian Forde. Kenya’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Raychelle Omamo, signed on behalf of her country.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, were also present during the signing ceremony.
Ms. Mottley emphasised the importance of the Air Services Agreement, saying that the absence of direct air and maritime transport between Africa and the Caribbean must be a “historic omission”, which the officials had a solemn and moral obligation to correct.
“I hope that after the Air Services Agreement is signed…, we will be in a position to do the substantive work now of unlocking that air travel that we also want badly to happen across East Africa, West Africa, the Caribbean and other areas in the Americas,” she said, before the signing.
She pointed out that the activities on Wednesday, including the high-level engagement, which culminated in the signing, represented their confidence that they were on the right journey.
The Prime Minister continued: “If we do not seize the moment, as we are trying to do now, then we will forever be victims of a time and a power over which we have no control.”
Ms. Mottley listed those participating in the Kenya-Barbados Business Forum earlier in the day as including KCB Group Limited; KenInvest; Equity Group Holdings Limited; Safaricom; Kenya Airways; Kenya Tourism Board,and the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
During his remarks, President Kenyatta underscored the importance of strengthening people-to-people relationships between Africa and the Caribbean. “We have also sought to deepen our people to people exchanges and there can be no better way than what is happening here today….
“Despite the fact that we may work towards the strengthening of our bilateral arrangements or diplomatic arrangements, it is…the people…of our two countries, who can turn those good relations into trade relations, into profitable and meaningful relationships that continue to cement the work that we are trying to do at the diplomatic or at the governmental level,” he proffered.
Mr. Kenyatta highlighted the importance of the business forum, which continues today. He added that he would be following up with his delegation to get a better understanding of the progress made during the trade mission, to ascertain what his Government could do to facilitate Barbados in being able to “move that much faster and more effectively in cementing these partnerships”.
He thanked Prime Minister Mottley for re-establishing relations with Kenya. “I want to thank you, in particular, and your Government, for the manner in which you personally have pushed for this revival of the Pan-African spirit, … recognising that we are stronger, working on these (areas) together,” he surmised.
President Kenyatta said he was pleased that the inaugural African-CARICOM Summit took place last month, and expressed hope that the meeting would be held annually or biannually.