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Ireland-Kenyan trade grows by 11 per cent-Ambassador

By Silas Nyanchwani | June 2nd 2015

Recently appointed Ireland Ambassador to Kenya, Dr Vincent O'Neill has praised the growth of trade between Kenya and Ireland between 2005 and 2014. The trade grew by 11% in 2005, from € 22 million to € 47 million in 2014.

Ireland reopened its embassy in Kenya in October 2014, for the first time in 26 years. The embassy was closed in 1988, due to an economic recession in Ireland. Now with the recent economic growth in Ireland, at 5%, they seek to reopen some of its embassies in sub-Saharan Africa, and Nairobi has been given the highest priority.

"We recognise Nairobi as an important hub and Kenya as a hugely important economic centre which plays a leading role in political, monetary and economic intergration of the East Africa Community," the Ambassador told The Standard, noting that the business between the two countries is likely to grow in the future.

"There is reason to believe these figures will significantly increase in the coming years," said the ambassador. An Irish business network, Business Ireland Kenya BIK) was established last year and now has more than 120 members. BIK members are involved in a wide range of business which include mineral exploration, financial services, security, education, ICT services, tourism, construction and pharmaceutical.

This, the ambassador says is a testament to the evolving relationship that Ireland is forging with Kenya and one that can benefit both countries.

"We will chiefly focus on new Irish Embassy in Kenya will be to deepen economic and trading links between our countries," said O'Neill.

Kenya opened its embassy in Dublin in 2007. O'Neill who met Kenya's counterpart in Dublin, Richard Opembe, says plans are underway to deepen the trade links in the two countries.

"Kenya can a lot from Ireland in fields such as agro-processing, attracting Foreign-Direct-Investment, how to support small businesses to become medium sized business, How to establish Financial Services Sector in Dublin, as well as to proactively engage a nation's diaspora," he says.

Kenya is one of the biggest consumers of Guinness outside Ireland while Ireland is the third-largest per capita consumer of Kenyan tea. Besides the business, Ireland also injects about € 6.5 in aid through Irish-Based Non-Governmental Organisation, such as Trocaire, Goal, Concern World Wide, according the ambassador.

Ireland while a nation of just 4 million people has a Diaspora of 70 million, including descendants. Most of them moved to America during the famine and the tumultuous political times that defined Ireland for much of the 20th century. And they have engaged the diaspora effectively. American presidents of Irish descent have played a key role in rebuilding and fostering the peace dividend that has been attributed to Ireland's growth in recent years.

According to the ambassador, the Irish business have not been affected by insecurity as to be concerned and is optimistic that terrorism being a global problem will contained.
"Kenya can learn from Ireland, given the parallels in their situation with our own terrorism. They need to employ military and political strategies, talk to the people involved, religious leader towards coming up with a solution," he advises.

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