Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Tuesday that Nairobi plans to expand export to Benin as part of efforts to increase bilateral trade between the two countries.
Kenyatta, who held talks in Nairobi with visiting President Patrice Talon of Benin focusing on deepening economic ties between Kenya and the West African nation, said the East African nation will expand its market for her products, including coffee, tea and fresh produce.
“Key to decreased dependence on western markets is optimal utilisation of our domestic markets thus boosting intra-African trade,” Kenyatta said in a statement issued after the meeting.
During the talks, Kenyatta also spoke strongly on expanding intra-Africa trade, including through improved air services to better link African cities. He expressed the need for the two countries to increase their bilateral trade.
The Kenyan leader cultivated close working relationships with leaders from all corners of the continent to boost the integration of Africa. The meeting with the Benin leader is part of Kenyatta’s Pan African focus to accelerate intra-Africa trade.
Trade between Kenya and Benin is currently limited largely due to the disadvantage of geographical distance and absence of direct transport between the two countries.
In 2015, Kenya’s exports to Benin were valued at 3.8 million U.S. dollars while imports recorded from Benin were minimal.
Kenya’s major exports to Benin include; medicines, sugar confectionery, jute and other textiles. Imports from Benin include liquefied propane and butane and paper.
Speaking during the meeting, President Talon said he wanted Kenyatta to lead a campaign for greater access by African airlines into African capitals, saying it was easier to fly to France from Cotonou than to fly to neighbouring Niger.
“We need one to three strong African airlines, to be allowed to make these inter-city connections. Like Kenya Airways, like Ethiopian Airlines. This is important for our continent,” Talon said.
Kenya Airways, the national carrier, already flies thrice a week between Nairobi and Cotonou.
The two leaders also discussed ways of enhancing the bilateral relations of the two countries and agreed to cooperate in areas such as training and capacity. “Africa does not have to rely on other continents for its development,” Kenyatta said.
President Talon is in the country on an official visit that will see him attend a two-day African Trade Insurance Agency’s (ATI) Fourth Roundtable and the agency’s Annual General Meeting which begins in Nairobi on Wednesday. Enditem