NAIROBI, KENYA: Deputy President William Ruto on Tuesday held talks with Sudan President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum, with focus to strengthen trade and investments between the two nations.
The leaders particularly stressed the need for the enhancement of cooperation in areas of manufacturing, agro-processing, textiles and healthcare among other areas.
President Bashir and Ruto agreed that Sudan and Kenya required agricultural and irrigation expertise to assist the country attain its food security, which is one of the Government’s Big Four agenda in the next five years.
Ruto thanked Sudan for allowing Kenya’s tea to dominate 80 per cent of its market. Kenya, he said did not take this for granted.
President Bashir asked Kenya to consider importing materials for uniforms for security agencies from Sudan.
“I take this opportunity to ask Kenya to consider purchasing uniforms including those of military from our country as we commit ourselves to increasing purchase of tea from your country,” said Bashir.
President Bashir congratulated President Kenyatta for his re-election.
Ruto urged the business community to take advantage of the cordial relations between the two countries to exploit investments opportunities.
He said the measures taken by Kenya including issuing of visas to individuals wishing to visit the country on arrival were aimed at promoting trading activities in the region.
“Our move to issue visas on arrival to people visiting us is in line with the resolve by African countries to eradicate trade barriers within the region. Kenya is implementing it without a demand for reciprocity from other countries,” said Ruto.
The leaders said it was high time African countries focused their efforts on building up industries, skills and technologies so they can produce their own high quality products, creating much-needed jobs and income for their people.
“There is no need for the African countries to continue to export raw materials only to buy them back in the form of finished products,” said President Bashir.
President Bashir said Sudan through its Gezira cotton scheme has embarked on value addition that has led to manufacturing of uniforms in the country.
“It is impressive that there is growing recognition among the African countries that the next stages of economic growth will require much greater attention to the work of 'adding value' to raw products and commodities as a means of accelerating job creation and promoting higher profit margins and returns on investment,” said Bashir.
“Kenya can learn from us by checking on our efficiency in the fields of textile and irrigation and implement for the benefit of the people as we also learn from you on the areas you have excelled in. That’s the essence of cooperation on matters of trade and investments,” added Bashir.
Ruto who also toured Sudan Currency Printing Press in Khartoum praised the steps the country has taken in the development of its industrialization sector.
The printing press is responsible for printing Sudanese banknotes, printing of government secured documents, commercial printing, printing banknotes of other countries, bank chequebooks, college certificates, printing textbooks, owning business names and establishing of subsidiary companies in the field of company’s specialization among others.
The Deputy President urged Sudanese companies to exploit the favorable investment climate to set base in Kenya.
He asked investors from the two countries to set up manufacturing plants in any of the nations and cash in on the expanded free trade area within the Sub-Saharan African market.
Ruto said the balance of trade between the two nations is heavily in favour of Kenya and underscored the need to bridge the gap.
“There is need for increased investments by Sudanese investors in Kenya so as to exploit the huge existing opportunities in infrastructure, trade and health among other areas,” said Ruto.