Italy to give Kenya Sh14b in grants and soft loans

President William Ruto (right) with his Italian counterpart President Sergio Mattarella at State House, Nairobi on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.[PPS]

Kenya and Italy have committed to abolishing non-tariff barriers between the two countries.

Italy has committed to advance Sh14 billion to Kenya in grants and soft loans to cover Agriculture, housing and urban settlement and the digital super highway.

The amount, President William Ruto said, would be channelled through the Kenya-Italy Multi-Annual Five-Year Cooperation Strategy on sustainable development.

He was speaking at State House, Nairobi on Tuesday, March 14, when he hosted his Italian counterpart, President Sergio Mattarella.

President Mattarella is in Kenya for a four-day State visit aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two countries.

Kenya and Italy have also agreed to abolish non-tariff barriers between the two countries.

President Ruto hailed the move saying it would promote greater trade leading to increased investments.

"Our two countries, at political and technical levels, agreed to remove non-tariff barriers and promote greater trade and increased investment, including negotiating avoidance of a double-taxation agreement, which will usher in significantly higher levels of foreign direct investments in various sectors, by Italian companies," said President Ruto.

The Heads of State exchanged views and shared ideas about emerging opportunities to improve the balance of trade between the two nations, including cooperation in agro industrial, ICT and bio-fuel projects, among others.

Ruto said Italy will also help Kenya re-establish Arror, Kimwarer and Itare dams in an effort to boost food security and water delivery.

'We have further committed, in good faith, to re-establish cooperation on the construction of Arror, Kimwarer and Itare dams and other water and sanitation projects, which are critical to our agenda on food security and climate action," Ruto said.

"We have now agreed on outstanding court cases and have agreed that the facilities that had been provided for the construction of these dams will be renegotiated so that we can provide for the delivery of the dams and the implementation of the projects."

The two leaders agreed to work together towards the realisation of universal health coverage, and improved pharmaceutical production.

They said they would cooperate in enhancing our informal settlement redevelopment program, which our two countries recently launched, to facilitate the security of land tenure in informal settlements in Kilifi, Siaya and Ngong municipalities.

The two nations further deliberated on increasing support for green sustainable energy policies a move that will see Kenya seek partnerships and investments with Italian firms.

"Kenya and Italy are in agreement that climate change and other environmental challenges must be addressed within the context of sustainable development. As a result, our meeting provided us with an opportunity to explore the possibility of a stronger collective voice in pursuit of common regional and global priorities, especially through increased support for green sustainable energy policies," Ruto said.

Additionally, they agreed to collaborate bilaterally, at the United Nations and other multilateral forums, on the basis of the convergence of values, principles and positions, to promote peace and security, trade, health, climate action and the elimination of hunger and malnutrition.

"In our meeting, President Mattarella and I also had the opportunity to discuss issues of regional and international significance. We pledged to work together in securing a peaceful future for parts of our respective continents affected by conflict and instability. Kenya appreciates Italy's pledge to support our efforts to restore regional peace, security and stability," Ruto said.

The meeting also considered the initiation of bilateral cooperation in such vital sectors as the arts, culture, science and technology.

On his part, President Mattarella re-affirmed the strong bonds of friendship and solidarity that hold the two nations together saying the visit was a clear demonstration of the commitment Kenya and Italy share to enhance bilateral ties through continuous dialogue and sustained exchange of knowledge.