• September 27th, 2020

On the spot - Friends with benefits … Kenya eyes improved trade relations with Namibia

Kenya High Commissioner to Namibia Benjamin Langat is focused on improving relations and boosting trade between the two countries during his tenure. According to Langat, many opportunities exist for both Namibia and Kenya to strengthen economic ties. Our reporter Kuzeeko Tjitemisa engaged the East African diplomat this week. 

KT: High Commissioner Langat, can you perhaps give us an overview of the diplomatic relations between Namibia and Kenya. What does Kenya import from Namibia and vice-versa? 

BM: Let me say this before we go to trade: Namibia and Kenya are very good friends – both politically and economically. We exchange quite a lot of services. For example, we have Kenyan health workers who have been working in Namibia since 2002. They are everywhere deep inside Namibia. They have been assisting Namibia in the health sector through a bilateral agreement. We have other technical exchanges like in fisheries and agriculture. Also, we have many Kenyan professors teaching at the University of Namibia (Unam) and Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). We have seen Namibian students going to the University of Nairobi to be trained in the health sector. Speaking of trade, in Kenya, the only beer other than Heineken, which is being promoted is Windhoek Lager, so I will say there is trade in terms of that. We are also planning to do a trade forum. We are communicating with the ministry of trade here, and very soon we will have a trade forum to strengthen our relations. 

KT: Which areas of cooperation do you think could be strengthened?

BM: We want to improve our trade relations and build on the relationship we already have. Like in Kenya, we produce a lot of tea that is being exported to many Europeans countries; we want this to be imported to the Namibia markets – just like we take the Windhoek Lager to Kenya.
Namibia is very good at fish and beef. We want to see the Namibian fish in the Kenyan market; we want to see Namibian beef in the Kenyan markets. Those are the things we need to build on. On the other hand, Kenya is good at flowers: we want to see Kenyan flowers in the Namibian market. Like I said, there is a lot that can be exchanged between the two countries.

KT: Speaking of Kenya being the lead exporter of rose cut flowers to the European Union (EU), there were talks between President Hage Geingob and his counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta for Kenyan experts to help revive flowers and other crop production at the Ongombo West resettlement farm. How far is this process?

BM: I would say that is something we want to immediately embark on after the inauguration of President Hage Geingob for the second time because as you may know, there was a change at the embassy here. Immediately after that, we were still trying to catch-up and also the Namibian side went into campaign mode immediately last year for elections.
In addition to the trade forum I told you about, we want to embark on bilateral agreements already agreed upon and one of them is the flowers request. President Geingob is very keen on that, When I handed over my letter of credential, he said he is very keen to ensure the agreement kicked off. 
Immediately after the inauguration, we will embark on it with whoever is the new minister of agriculture.

KT: What can Namibia learn from Kenya and vice-versa?
BM: Namibia can learn a lot from Kenya in the agricultural sector. Like I said, we are exporting flowers to the European markets – Namibia can learn from that. In terms of coffee, we export coffee to the European markets – Namibia can learn from that. There are actually a lot that we can learn from each other.
Also, in tourism, Namibia can learn from Kenya in that sector. Like today, if you go to Dubai and see any African walking in the street of that country, they must be from Kenya Tourism College and Namibia can learn a lot in terms of tourism training.   

In terms of Kenya learning form Namibia, we are in fact already learning from Namibia. For example, in fishing sector, Kenya is learning a lot from Namibia because Namibia has a more advanced fishing industry than Kenya. We are learning how to issue fishing rights and how to export to the markets.
Also, Namibia is ahead in terms of beef and farming – you are able to export meat to European markets and we are yet to reach there, so those are some of the things Kenya can learn from Namibia.
Also, in terms of cattle breeding, Namibia is far ahead in that sector and Kenyan farmers can learn from Namibian farmers in terms of cattle breeding. 
In Namibia, you have Brahman, simmentaler and Bonsmara cattle breeds, which are not common in Kenya.

KT: Is there anything else that you want to add? 

BM: Let me use this opportunity to thank the Namibian authorities for recognising the role played by the late President Daniel Arap Moi during the Namibian independence struggle.
Indeed, Moi played a big role in availing security forces to Namibia and this was not only in Namibia but also South Africa.

Furthermore, we are looking forward to building a serious relationship in terms of business. In fact, when I came, President Geingob said “we don’t just want friendship; we want friendship with business”, so that is what we want to build.
We want to increase trade volume between Kenya and Namibia. We want to see lawyers from Namibia partnering with lawyers in Kenya; we want to see accountants from Namibia practicing in Kenya and vice-versa. These are some of the things we want to see happening. 
– ktjitemisa@nepc.com.na

Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
2020-02-14 07:50:35 | 7 months ago

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