Kenya Plans Road Show to Ethiopia Capital

January 15, 2013

Ministry of Foreign Affairs caravan to carry Kenyan goods on the way to Addis Ababa and vise-versa in bid to boost trade

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and private sector firms are planning a major road caravan to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, through Northern Kenya to market the two countries as untapped markets for businesses.

Director in charge of economic and external trade division at the ministry Johnson Weru said businesses are yet to start moving into Ethiopia after the two countries signed an agreement in November last year to open investment opportunities and improve trade between them.

“We will carry a lot of Kenyan merchandise to Ethiopia before the end of April and buy Ethiopian commodities on our return journey as a symbol of the massive business opportunity that the two countries have,” said Mr Weru.

He said most firms had complained about the yet to be complete Northern Corridor through Marsabit, Turbi and Moyale linking the two countries. Roads permanent secretary Michael Kamau has, however, said the road will be complete by April to facilitate ease of movement.

Mr Weru said the Ethiopian Government was drafting a law that would give the concession legal backing to allow businesses between the two countries special privileges.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a delegation that is closely working with the Ethiopian Government to ensure that all the agreements that were signed are anchored into law,” said Mr Weru.

PHOTO | JENNY VAUGHAN | FILE People working on the assembly line at Huajian shoe factory in Dukem, Ethiopia. Kenya wants to increase trade with the country. AFP

East African Breweries Limited and Bidco have previously expressed interest in making inroads into Ethiopia. Others are Jubilee Insurance, security firm G4S, Equity Bank, Safaricom and Brookside, eyeing opportunities in agricultural financing and the budding small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector.

President Kibaki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn signed the deal meant to open investment opportunities and improve trade between the two countries.

“We need to move our teamwork from just political interests and regional security to include improving inter-country trade to benefit the over 130 million people living in both countries,” said Mr Hailemariam.

The Special Status Agreement provides Kenyan businesses with easier access to the Ethiopian market. Under the scheme, traders will be granted simplified certificates of origin to enable them enjoy duty and quota free access as long as their goods appear on a list of agreed products.

Selective basis

Ethiopia restricts foreign investors from venturing into the telecommunication, banking, media, retailing, insurance and electricity sectors, but allows them on selective basis.

Kenya and Ethiopia have in the recent past tussled over a list of products to be covered under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Simplified Trade Regime (STR) that seeks to ease the flow of products in the region.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers chairman Polycarp Igathe said they intend to fully move into Ethiopia and take advantage of over 85 million people in the country which means a bigger market for Kenyan commodities.