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Irish Ambassador Speaks on Economic Partnership with Kenya



Kenya’s positive investment climate has made it attractive to international firms seeking to invest and set up regional or pan-African operations headquarters in the country.

Despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenya remains resilient in addressing its regulatory framework and its attractiveness as a destination for foreign companies. Kenya also continues to strengthen trade with foreign countries.

One of the countries Kenya enjoy strong trade ties with is Ireland. This can be witnessed by an increasing number of Irish companies that are doing business in Kenya and considerable growth in trade between the two countries.

Trade statistics from the Central Statistics Office in Ireland show that total trade between Ireland and Kenya stood at €34.307m during the period January-September 2021.

The largest sector of exports from Kenya to Ireland was coffee, tea and cocoa valued at €11.327m while some of the largest exports from Ireland to Kenya are essential oils and perfume materials valued at €7.43m.

According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, Kenya exports to Ireland for the year 2020 was $15.59m.

Trade between these two countries further received a boost following the signing of the Ireland Kenya Double Taxation Agreement early this year. The agreement creates a conducive environment for investments, trade in goods and services between the two countries by removing the double taxation of income or gains arising in one country and paid to residents of the other country.

Double taxation leads to losing a significant portion of income for both individuals and corporations, which also face the challenges of incurring higher employee costs because of the higher taxes expatriate labour must pay.

The Irish Embassy in Kenya plays a major role in fostering the expansion of two-way trade and business links between the two countries including supporting private sector development.

Speaking during the 2021 AFMASS Food expo in Nairobi, Irish Ambassador Fionnuala Quinlan reiterated her Embassy’s commitment to deepening Kenya-Ireland trade ties through policy and associations like Business Ireland Kenya (BIK).

BIK provides a platform to network, share resources, and create business linkages between the two countries. With an active and connected membership, the association hosts several key engagements that prove helpful to businesses including thematic business meetings, networking opportunities, access to economic insights and a thriving online presence that allows for the marketing of member products.

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“We believe in the power of cooperation in driving economic growth, and that is why the Irish Embassy continues to support trade initiatives between our two countries. There is growing interest by Irish companies keen to invest in the region through the BIK association which now has over 150 members. We encourage both Kenyan and Irish companies to take advantage of the trade policies and goodwill between our two countries to fuel joint growth which will benefit both of our countries.” Quinlan stated.

The ambassador also congratulated Kerry Group the latest BIK member to move into Kenya and set their larger investment in the region.

“The embassy wishes them the best as they work with Africa’s food manufacturers to develop innovative products for consumers,” she added.

Ireland-Kenya relations are not limited to business alone, but also encompass education, health, and Irish Missionaries.

Ireland is working to improve Kenyans’ lives by providing support to smallholder farmers focusing on potato and dairy value chains and fisheries.

In 2017, Ireland Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney launched Ireland Kenya Agri-Food Strategy 2017-2021 (IKAFS) during his visit to the country to enable Ireland to share its agri-food expertise and knowledge with Kenya.

Early this year, Ireland partnered with TradeMark East Africa to launch a Ksh 12 million project to help increase the number of women trading within the agricultural sector in Kenya by eliminating barriers to trade for women and building their capacity. The project targets female producers, aggregators, cross-border traders and women-owned or women-led MSMEs/SMEs.

Ireland also continues to support the potato farming sector in Kenya through the provision of low-cost storage facilities and capacity building of smallholder farmers to increase revenues and improve food and nutrition security. The programme has so far supported over 15,000 potato farmers to increase yields by over 50%.

With respect to education and health, the Irish missionary organisations has established centres for education and health in many parts of Kenya. The centres include Loreto College Limuru, St. Mary’s College Nairobi, St Patrick’s College Iten and the Mater Hospital.

In 2018, the Irish Aid Mission launched Young Scientist Kenya (YSK) initiative to help drive youth creativity and innovation after a successful BT Young Scientists and Technology Exhibition in Ireland.

The programme encourages secondary school students on the importance of learning science, the students are also mentored on developing projects to find local solutions to local problems.

YSK Kenya now reaches and inspires 13,000 students directly and over 10,000 through online outreach.

With support from the Irish Embassy, YSK conducted an online exhibition in 2020 where students from 22 counties drawn from public and private schools, arid and semi-arid regions (ASAL) and urban settlements came together to discuss critical issues in agriculture, technology, health, energy, and STEM inclusivity, as well as timely projects responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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