Uhuru's Caribbean visit to foster trade and unity
By Anthony Muchiri
| October 3rd 2021
President Uhuru Kenyatta makes his third visit to the Caribbean region from October 4 to 7, 2021. This follows closely the successful visits of both the prime ministers of Jamaica and Barbados to Kenya in December 2019.
Kenya’s engagement with the Caribbean predates its independence movement with stalwarts such as Dudley Thompson, Marcus Garvey, Henry Williams, George Padmore, Ras Makonnen and many others who assisted many African countries, Kenya included, to fight for independence.
Fidel Castro, Walter Rodney and others were heroes who continued assisting the liberation struggle post-sixties and seventies after most African countries had gained their independence.
These engagements have continued over the past five decades but gained traction within Africa, and specifically, the corridors of the African Union (AU), when President Kenyatta came into office and Kenya established an embassy in Cuba in 2016, the first in Central America and the larger Caribbean Area.
A series of outbound visits and events followed thereafter with Uhuru visiting Cuba in 2018, Jamaica and Barbados in 2019 and Barbados once again in 2021.
Hand-over the mantle
Seminal events followed thereafter with Kenya taking up the Chair of the 14th Session of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 2016, hosting the first global conference on the sustainable blue economy in 2018, hosting and ascending to the Presidency of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) in 2019, a seat in the UN Security Council in 2020 and hosting the first-ever Africa/Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit in 2021.
It is against this background that the president returns to Barbados to not only attend and hand-over the mantle of the 15th Session of UNCTAD to the Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley but is also leading a strong business delegation to tap into new and emerging markets within CARICOM and further afield particularly in the FINTECH, geothermal, oil and gas, banking, manufacturing, transport and maritime, agriculture and the environment sectors.
During the visit, and consistent with instructions issued by the Heads of State and Government during the Africa/CARICOM Summit, an MoU between Africa and CARICOM will be signed on the margins of the UNCTAD meeting that will set the foundation to establish the necessary key structures for institutionalising this critical partnership to give effect and renewed hope in South-South Cooperation.
The Kenyan diplomatic outreach in the Caribbean is a strategic milestone in its long and determined effort to bring together Kenya, Africa and the Caribbean at the highest levels of government and policymaking with the main objective of opening new frontiers in unity, trade, connectivity and institution building.
Mr Muchiri is the High Commissioner of Kenya to Barbados and Plenipotentiary Representative to CARICOM
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