By Etaarifa Contributor
President Uhuru Kenyatta has led his government to pitch Kenya as a tourism and investment destination at an international expo in Milan, Italy, one of Kenya’s largest sources of tourists.
The President invited the Italian people to tour Kenya and investors to explore possibilities of conducting business in real estate, infrastructure and other forms of trade.
He told the Expo Milan 2015, in which more than 180 countries are participating that investors could use Kenya as a platform to penetrate the Eastern African market with their products.
“Kenya is unique. We welcome companies to invest in energy, infrastructure, trade ICT, real estate and to take advantage of Kenya as a hub to Eastern and Southern Africa,” said President Kenyatta.
The President was leading a delegation that included Cabinet Secretaries Joseph Nkaissery, Phyllis Kandie, Hassan Wario, Amina Mohammed, Najib Balala and Attorney General Githu Muigai to market Kenya at the expo.
During President Uhuru’s visit in Italy, key bi-lateral agreements have been signed. The Italian Government has offered to extend and expand its debt swap program, a move that will see Ksh. 4.2 Billion injected into key socio-economic projects in Kenya. The decision was reached at a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome, Italy. Under the debt for development swap program, the Government of Italy converted part of its outstanding debt to Kenya to funds that will finance projects in health, education, water and sanitation in high poverty density regions in the country.
Prime Minister Renzi also offered Italy’s support to Kenya’s war against terrorism through training the Kenya police in counter-terrorism. The training of police officers will commence in October 2015. Italy also pledged to give Kenya equipment for border control and surveillance, with the two countries stepping up their information gathering and sharing.
President Kenyatta and Prime Minister Renzi discussed joint co-operation in agricultural production to safeguard Kenya’s food security as well as development and financing of small and medium-size enterprises.
On trade, President Kenyatta encouraged Italian companies to invest in Kenya’s manufacturing industry to bridge the balance of trade between the two countries, which is currently in favor of Italy, with Kenyan exports to Italy in 2014 amounting to Ksh. 7 Billion against Italian imports valued at Ksh. 20 Billion.