Entrevista com o Embaixador Lemarron Kaanto

Could you tell our readers about Kenya relations with Brazil please?

  1. The Government and the people of Kenya deeply appreciate the existing cordial political, economic and people to people relations between Kenya and Brazil. These bonds of friendship make it possible to take a common approach to issues facing our people, including that of ensuring that our business communities thrive.
  2. Kenya has had long standing relations with Brazil since the establishment of a resident diplomatic mission in Nairobi in 1967. Similarly, Kenya established an embassy in Brazil in October 2006, located in Lago Sul, Brasilia.
  3. The two countries have had high level visits when the President of Brazil, H.E President Lula da Silva visited Kenya in 2010 and the late former President of Kenya, H. E Mwai Kibaki visited Brazil in 2012.
  4. There have been warm and cordial relations between the two countries which have flourished, characterized with mutually beneficial partnerships in various areas such as bio-fuel technology, agriculture and energy among others.
  5. Brazil has been identified as a key strategic market for promotion of Kenya’s exports of trade in goods as well as services. Kenya seeks to harness the enormous economic prospects and untapped potential that there is between Kenya and Brazil to further strengthen the economic, social and cultural ties.
  6. In furtherance of this agenda for closer cooperation between Kenya and Brazil, I arrived in Brazil on 13th March 2021 and presented my Letters of Credence to the President of Brazil, H.E Jair Bolsonaro on 5th April 2021.
  7. Kenya will be celebrating her National Day on 12th December 2022, as that day marks the celebration of two key events. On 12th December 1964, Kenya became a republic and a year earlier on 12th December 1963, Kenya gained her independence thus commemorating 59 years of sovereign rule.

What are the latest updates and projects going on between both countries?

  1. Projects geared towards creating a favourable Balance of Trade (BOT) between the two countries and increased cooperation include:
  2. Promotion of Technical Cooperation in Agriculture and Livestock:

I. The Mission has secured various ongoing projects with the Brazilian organizations including the Cotton Victoria Project being implemented in Kenya by Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC) on cotton and cassava production. The Kisumu unit of the Cotton Victoria Project was highlighted to have produced twice the national Kenyan average per hectare in 2019, reaching 1202 kg per hectare.

II. The Mission has been spearheading a Kenya-Brazil Livestock Sector Promotion Initiative through the conducting of a series of virtual meetings to explore possibilities of forging collaborations in technical cooperation as well as linkages to export livestock products to Brazil.

  1. Promotion of Tourism linkages between Kenya and Brazil.

III. The Mission has promoted Kenya as a choice tourism destination for Brazilians and has been carrying out various engagements to promote the growth of tourism. These includes linking tourism stakeholders to explore the possibility of collaborating in providing tourism travel packages, creation of linkages in training programmes on hospitality, collaboration in sports tourism, arts and studies.

  1. Creation of Industrial Linkages with Brazilian Private Sector:

IV. The Kenya Embassy Brasilia has created linkages with key Business Member Organizations in various sectors in Brazil. Discussions have been ongoing on how to expand linkages with the Private Sector including Confederation of Commerce, Goods, Services and Tourism (CNC), National Confederation of Industry (CNI), Federation of Trade in Goods, Services and Tourism of the State of São Paulo (FeComercio SP), National Service of Commerce Apprenticeship (SENAC) and Social Service of Industry (SESI).

V. The Mission has engaged various Brazilian organizations including Brazilian Confederation of National Agriculture (CNA) and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Cooperation (EMBRAPA).

VI. These will allow for further collaborations with the Kenyan equivalent organizations to explore possibilities for cooperation in trade and investments in the identified sectors.

  1. Promotion of Education, Technology and Innovation Transfer:

VII. There is an existing Scholarship Programme with Kenyan students learning in various Universities in Brazil. The Mission seeks to link educational institutions of Brazil and Kenya to explore a possible

partnership in technical cooperation, technology transfer, collaboration in capacity building, joint market research initiatives among other activities in future.

  1. Cultural Diplomacy

VIII. The Kenya Embassy has been upholding the cultural diplomacy by increasing awareness of Kenya’s cultural richness thus generating more interests in the country’s cultural heritage. This has been through promoting cultural exchanges and partnerships; promoting sports by recognizing the role of Kenyan athletes and other sportsmen and women.

IX. In this regard, the Mission flagged the Kenya National Women’s Basketball team Malkia Strikers to participate at the World Championships that took place in Netherlands in October 2022 following a two month training camp at the Osasco Volleyball Club in Sáo Paulo. The Mission also participated in the Deaflympics that took place in Caxias do Sul, Brazil.

What do you expect from the Both countries in a near future?

  1. Going forward, the two countries are keen on deepening and expanding relations in Trade, Investments, Agriculture, Animal genetics and Tourism among other areas of cooperation.
  2. Kenya has great potential to export products that have the strongest demand in Brazil. Following analysis of the Brazilian imports, Kenya can supply a number of products to Brazil as follows and thus improve the balance of trade;
    a. Manufactures:
    i. T-shirts
    ii. Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, waistcoats;
    iii. Flat rolled products of iron and steel;
    iv. Chemicals such as disodium carbonate;
    v. Insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides, herbicides;
    vi. Medicaments;

b. Agricultural Products
vii. Nuts;
viii. Citrus fruits;
ix. Butter;
x. Extracts of coffee, Tea or mate;
xi. Tea;
xii. Cut flowers;
xiii. Palm oil;
xiv. Live fish among others

Please  make your own comments about your country and its development?

  1. Kenya is a lower middle-income country with a GDP of USD 110.35 Billion with a GDP growth rate of 7.5 percent in 2021. The GDP per capita has been increasing constantly at USD 1,643.6 and the GDP per capita growth rate being 5.1 percent in 2021 (World Bank, 2022).
  2. At the global level, Kenya is a member of several regional and international organizations including the African Union (AU), the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East Africa Community (EAC) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
  3. The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is the world’s largest free trade area which entered into force on 30 May 2019, creating a single continental market with a population of 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of approximately USD 3.4 trillion.
  4. Kenya is an active player in Africa economic integration initiatives and to this end was the second to ratify and deposit instruments of ratification of the AfCFTA. In June 2022, Kenya was designated as one of seven countries to pilot the AfCFTA rollout. Kenya has since launched the AfCFTA Implementation Strategy in August 2022.
  5. Targeted export products under Kenya’s AfCFTA rollout program include fisheries, medicine, fertilizer, industrial chemical, livestock, fruits, vegetables, spices, handicrafts, mining and oil & gas. Priority service exports include tourism, professional services, education, healthcare, financial services, ICT, cultural, sports, transport and logistics.
  6. This is a great opportunity for Brazilian investors to invest in Kenya in supplying equipment and services int the value chain of products and services covered under the pilot program as Kenya started exporting under the program in October 2022. As of July 2022, 54 countries signed and 44 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification.
  7. Kenya has 82 gazetted Export Processing Zones and 15 gazetted Special Economic Zones where different incentives have been provided including a 10-year cooperate tax holiday, 10-year withholding tax holiday, 100% investment deduction allowance on building and machinery, perpetual exemption from stamp duty, VAT and customs import duty on raw material and machinery.
  8. Kenya was admitted to the United Nations in 1963, the same year the country gained independence. In the 1970s, there was the expansion of UN presence in Kenya when the country became the host of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) followed by United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UN-HABITAT), forming the nucleus of UN presence in Kenya. In 1996, the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) was established, becoming one of four major UN office sites and the UN’s headquarters in Africa. The UN complex contains a completely energy and carbon neutral building. Today there are 23 UN agencies operating in Nairobi.
  9. Kenya has played a central role in mediation of her neighbours including South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. As Africa’s representative at the UN Security Council, Kenya has been well positioned to offer a neutral platform for negotiation and fostering restoration of peace and security in the region.
  10. Her Diplomatic influence has largely remained a mediator and propagator of regional stability. Kenya’s most recent peace exploits has been the brokerage of a long-lasting peace solution between the Ethiopian Government and the Tigray rebels as well as between the DRC Government and the different militias operating in the region.
  11. Kenya has been keen in the promotion of Sustainable Green Industries through the production of Green Energy including Wind energy, Solar energy; Biomass; Biogas; Hydropower and Geothermal energy where there is proven potential of as high as 10,000MW of geothermal power along Rift Valley; Menengai, Olkaria & Baringo.
  12. Various international conferences on environmental sustainability and blue economy have been hosted in Kenya including the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in November 2018, that was held in Nairobi, which was the first global conference on the sustainable blue economy. Similarly, Kenya hosted the Fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) from 28 February – 2 March 2022 in Nairobi followed by a Special Session of the UN Environment Assembly, UNEP@50, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the creation of UNEP in 1972.
  13. After the August 2022 elections, Kenya has a new Government headed by H.E Dr. William Ruto, with current Agenda being guided by the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Model that seeks to bring down the cost of living for Kenyans, eradicating hunger, creating jobs, expanding the tax base, improving our foreign exchange balance and inclusive growth.
  14. To this end, the Economic Transformation Model is made up of five pillars focussing on the following key sectors namely; Agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) economy, Housing and Settlement, Healthcare, Digital Superhighway and Creative Economy.
  15. The Embassy in Brasilia will continue to promote closer cooperation more so in view of the agenda and vision of our two countries that resonate with each other.

Fabiana Ceyhan

Jornalista por formação, Professora de Inglês (TEFL, Teaching English as a Foreigner Language). Estudou Media Studies na Goldsmiths University Of London e tem vasta experiência como Jornalista da área internacional, tradutora e professora de Inglês. Poliglota, já acompanhou a visita de vários presidentes estrangeiros ao Brasil. Morou e trabalhou 15 anos fora do país.