Kenya and Barbados have resolved to expand areas of cooperation and create more economic opportunities for citizens of the two nations.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados agreed that increased economic engagement will form the foundation for rekindling the historical bilateral ties between the two countries.
The two leaders spoke when they led their delegations in bilateral talks in Bridgetown, Barbados where they witnessed the signing of two key agreements.
The pacts signed by Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and her Barbadian counterpart Jerome Walcott were a Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of a Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) and another one on Political Consultations.
President Kenyatta emphasized that real people-to-people engagement will be enabled by economic activities that bring citizens of the two countries together.
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“The reason why our people go to the United States, London, Canada or any other country is because they are pursuing economic opportunities there. One of the key thing for us, therefore, is to figure out how we can establish economic opportunity at a South-South level and at an Africa-Caribbean level,” President Kenyatta said.
During the meeting, Kenya and Barbados resolved to work together and enhance their cooperation in renewable energy, tourism, health, education, blue economy, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), sports, culture, trade and investment.
On health, President Kenyatta and Prime Minister Mottley agreed that the two countries should have an exchange programme that will see Kenyan medical students training in Barbados while their Barbadian counterparts come to Kenya for internship.
Noting that Barbados has a high literacy rate compared to Kenya, President Kenyatta said that education presents a potential area for the two countries to further collaborate through sharing of experiences and expertise.
He expressed optimism that the signing of the MOU on the establishment of a JCC creates the possibility for more cooperation in the education sector such as the recognition of respective education certificates by the two countries.
“As we talk about sharing our experiences in ICT, as we talk about what we can do in education, as we talk about what we can do in healthcare and other areas, this has to be backed by a much stronger platform of economic cooperation and linkages. This is what will get our people to move,” President Kenyatta said.
“We want to share experiences but we have also to be practical hardnosed economic diplomats who look at each other as people who complement not compete with one another. We need to try and see how we can take advantage of our close ties for the benefit of our people,” he added.
Prime Minister Mottley lauded the meeting saying it proved that the two countries have made significant progress in forging deeper and better relations.
“I want to thank His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta for making this visit this week and for literally allowing us to enter into the future with a level of cooperation and partnership between our two countries and our two regions,” Prime Minister Mottley said.
The Prime Minister said while Kenya and Barbados understand that they have at different times been victims of common obstacles and exploitation, they now have the power to forge a common destiny.
“We believe that our perspective on a number of things is common. Kenya like Barbados does not have the benefit of significant minerals and therefore its people are its greatest asset. Kenya like Barbados is highly independent minded,” the PM said.
Prime Minister Mottley expressed optimism that the reinvigorated partnership between Kenya and Barbados will present new opportunities for the people of the two countries.