President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has extolled the government and people of Kenya for their selflessness in supporting Liberia in the fight of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
According to a dispatch from Nairobi, President Sirleaf was speaking at State House when she led a high-level delegation for bilateral talks between the two countries.
President Sirleaf said Kenya indeed proved to be a true friend to Liberia when the East African nation sent medical staff to assist Liberia in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease. “You will always know your genuine friends when passing through tough times,” she told the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and delegation, adding passionately, “Kenya stood with us when we were confronted. We will always remain indebted to you.”
In his response, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said the State Visit by President Sirleaf provided an opportunity to rejuvenate the enormous potential between the two countries, build on a foundation of common values of mutual cooperation and interests.
He said the level of engagement between Liberia and Kenya, particularly in trade, has been very low but holds much promise.
As a manifestation of the two leaders’ commitment to forge closer cooperation, they signed an agreement for the establishment of a Joint Commission for Cooperation and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Political Consultations.
Acting Foreign Minister, Mr. Elias Shoniyin, signed on behalf of the government; while Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Amina Mohammed, signed for Kenya.
Acknowledging the signing, President Uhuru Kenyatta said it will provide the necessary legal and political frameworks for enhancing mutual beneficial commercial, cultural and diplomatic exchanges. He challenged both countries and their delegations to “move with speed, identify potential sectors for cooperation and develop strong and sustainable frameworks in order to accrue tangible benefits for our citizens.”
Meanwhile, both leaders also signed a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) to revitalize the air transport connectivity between the two countries. The Kenyan leader also singled out agriculture as one area where his country can share its experiences with Liberia. “Kenya,” President Kenyatta said, “can leverage its vast knowledge, particularly in the livestock sub-sector, to provide capacity building, share best practices in disease and pest control and cooperate in research and technology transfer.”
President Kenyatta said Liberia, which is home to the second largest maritime registry in the world, has a wealth of experience in maritime affairs that Kenya could benefit from.
He then thanked Liberia for its decision to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), the main decision-making body in the global trade system. “Kenya,” he said, “looks forward to working closely with Liberia and other African countries within the WTO to ensure that the needs of the continent are addressed.”
Also making remarks during the bilateral talks, President Sirleaf said she was in Kenya to attend the WTO meeting and to make her country’s voice heard at that world body.
She conceded that the time was ripe for Liberia and Kenya to explore new areas of engagements to benefit their citizens. Madam Sirleaf cited great strides Kenya has made especially in the education sector, adding that this is one area of cooperation Liberia was keen to develop. Kenya, she observed, has excelled in providing quality education to its young people and as such Liberia intends to borrow a leaf from Kenya.
Later, President Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta hosted a luncheon in honor of the visiting Liberian Head of State and high-powered delegation at State House, Nairobi.
In a related development, President Sirleaf and delegation were later taken on a guided tour of the flower farm at Karen on the outskirts of the capital, Nairobi, and the Kazuri Beads Project.
The flower farm exports natural flower to several industrialized nations including the United States and Germany. The Kazuri Beads Project aims to empower women through sustainable employment opportunities.
The project began as an initiative by Lady Susan Wood and two African women and soon discovered that there were many other women in villages around Nairobi, most of who were single mothers, who were in great need of regular employment.
Driven by the desire to provide such opportunities, Kazuri has grown and today has a large workforce skilled in the manufacture of handmade jewelry. Kazuri Beads is specialized in the design and production of pottery ware, which reflects the culture and wildlife of Kenya.
Meanwhile President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was presented Kenya’s highest award – Chief of The Order of The Golden Heart of Kenya (CGH) – at a colorful ceremony held at State House in Nairobi, Kenya.
She was given the topmost Kenyan award at an Investiture Ceremony following elaborate celebrations marking the East African country’s 52nd National Independence Anniversary, in ardent recognition of her enormous undertakings in both private and public life spanning over national and international careers.