President Uhuru Kenyatta’s 3-day state visit to Israel which is aimed at strengthening partnership in investment, trade, security and trade ties between Kenya and Israel has bore fruits.
The new ties between the two nations are set to provide employment for Kenyans, curb insecurity as well as grow Kenya’s economy through trade and investment.
During his visit, President Kenyatta met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem where they spoke on how to expand relationships in various areas including agriculture and irrigation, security, and information technology.
Later, President Kenyatta and Prime Minister Netanyahu signed agreements on irrigation and agriculture, furthering an agenda that both Nairobi and Tel Aviv have sought to deepen over the last several years.
Widening the scope in Agriculture
Speaking on the importance of utilizing Kenya’s more than 70% of the arid land, President Kenyatta said that Kenya will send more students to Israel to learn from the experience of Israelis in harnessing harsh and dry lands to produce crops.
He said the decision to send more Kenyan students was arrived at after holding a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu.
President Kenyatta spoke when he visited a Kibbutz where more than 70 Kenyan students are learning new farming technologies, a statement said.
Once they complete the training, the students will have acquired skills in intensive agriculture productions techniques, design, and application of automated agriculture and irrigation systems.
According to President Kenyatta, the knowledge learned by the students will be used to revolutionize agriculture in Kenya starting with the Galana-Kulalu Irrigation Scheme where the students will first apply their skills.
“A desert can truly be a paradise if we are committed. This place is drier than any part of Kenya but look at what they produce,” said President Kenyatta who was taken on a tour of organic tomato farms and a section of the Kibbutz for dairy cows.
Students under the Galana Kulalu food security project, will each year for six years receive free training that is funded by the Israeli government to a tune of Sh3.5 billion ($34.4 million). About 100 young Kenyans will get free training on irrigation engineering, with the same training model being replicated at various Kenyan institutions of higher learning.
Labor and Trade Relations
Speaking at a State Dinner hosted in his honor by the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin and First Lady Nechama Rivlin, at the Israeli President’s official residence, President Kenyatta called on Israelis to invest more in Kenya noting that the country was one of the easiest nations in which to do business.
“I call upon Israel businessmen and women to head to Kenya and take advantage of the conducive investment climate prevailing,” Kenyatta said.
Additionally, Kenya has been given a green-light to export labor to Israel. Kenya’s foreign ministry will have to come up with a draft proposal in three months.
Speaking to the Nation, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said she would push to have workers in hospitality, agriculture and education work in Israel.
Although numbers are not yet known, this is a good start for Kenya and Kenyans who are seeking employment in various sectors.
“We agreed to start a conversation on the number because they are only willing to take a few and we must also put into consideration that it is demand-driven,” the CS who is among those accompanying the President in the state visit said.
Tackling security challenges
On matters terrorism and security, President Kenyatta and president Rivlin said the two countries will cooperate more in the war on terror.
President Kenyatta said: “we in Kenya hold Israel as a dear and very special friend. The war on terrorism is international and we must all join hands together to defeat it.”
President Rivlin said Israel supports the deployment of the Kenya Defence Forces in Somalia, adding that the work they were doing is for the benefit of the whole region and the world.
Among the many areas that Kenya seeks to partner with Israel, President Kenyatta said the first area Kenya wants to benefit from is Israel’s expertise in the war against terror and regional security matters.
President Rivlin emphasized that Israel stands with Kenya in the face of the threats posed by terrorists to the country over its role in regional security.
“We feel the pain together with you. Israel stands together with you against those who pretend to speak in the name of Islam as they murder men, women, and children,” said President Rivlin, as he expressed Israel’s solidarity with Kenya following the terror attack on KDF forces in Somalia.
The Israeli President praised the role Kenya plays in negotiations for peace negotiations as well as peacekeeping.
On his part, President Kenyatta said Kenya and Israel face similar challenges in a world that is becoming increasingly interlinked. The President said the two countries both find themselves in volatile neighborhoods.
“Kenya and Israel have learned much and have much to share in these experiences. In this regard, we look forward to forging even stronger relations and cooperation in ensuring safety and security of our peoples,” President Kenyatta said.