General News of Saturday, 13 December 2014

Source: Starrfmonline.com

Ghana, Kenya bolster historic ties with new pacts

President John Dramani Mahama and his Kenyan host, President Uhuru Kenyatta, have supervised the signing of seven key agreements to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation between the two nations, at the conclusion of a three-day state visit of the Ghanaian leader.

Two of the agreements, which were signed at the State House in Nairobi, centred on the development of partnerships in Air Services and Trade, whilst five Memorandums of Understanding, (MOUs), were signed on Tourism, Agriculture, Energy, Oil and Gas, Information and Communications Technologies, (ICTs), and Education.

Some elements of the agreements include efforts to reduce the cost of doing business between the two countries, cooperation in tourism training, and the exchange of technical information in agriculture.

In bilateral discussions preceding the signing ceremony, the two leaders exchanged ideas on the need to establish Double Taxation Agreements between the two nations and how to protect investments in each other’s country.

They further discussed how Ghana and Kenya could serve as effective sub-regional aviation hubs in West and East Africa respectively. President Mahama congratulated his Kenyan host on the recent decision of the International Criminal Court, (ICC), to drop charges of crime against humanity and genocide levelled against him over the killing of more than 1000 people during the 2007 elections.

President Mahama, who is Chair of the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS) noted that Kenya, as the largest economy in East Africa, and Ghana, as the second largest economy in West Africa, could forge stronger partnerships that boost intra-African trade and deliver jobs, opportunities and prosperity to the people of both nations. The Kenyan leader, who is the current Chair of the East Africa Community (EAC) commended President Mahama on his leadership as Chair of ECOWAS, especially in addressing terrorism and insecurity, fighting the Ebola outbreak disease in some West African countries and also assisting the people of Burkina Faso to return their nation to a state of normalcy after the citizens uprising that resulted in the resignation of President Blaise Compaore.

“We are architects of a future our forefathers only imagined. It is our duty to work for the greater good of our people,” he said.

“Despite the cordial relations between our two countries the level of economic engagement has been wanting even though a steady growth in trade has been recorded recently. Let us take advantage of the agreements signed today.”

The two Presidents characterized the visit as the re-opening of a new and promising chapter in Ghana-Kenya relations, to build on the warm, deep and historic pre-independence bonds established by Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Kenya’s founding President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. President Kenyatta thanked President Mahama for undertaking this historic three-day state visit, which is the first ever by a sitting Ghanaian Head of State.

In his response, President Mahama extended a reciprocal invitation to his host to undertake a state visit Ghana at a date to be agreed by both Governments soon. On arrival at State House, President Mahama inspected a guard of honour mounted by troops from the Kenya Defence Forces and received a twenty-one gun salute.

Earlier on Friday morning, President Mahama laid a wreath at the Mausoleum of the late Kenyan President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, during a solemn ceremony. The two Presidents also toured the vast compound of the Kenya National Youth Service, where thousands of Kenyan youth are trained and deployed every year into various sectors and communities.

The leaders inspected heavy equipment and trucks that are used for the construction of boreholes and roads, in deprived communities, such as the Kibera slum area in Nairobi.

President Mahama, who also served as a Special Guest of Honour at Kenya’s 51st Independence anniversary celebrations (or Jamhuri) Day on Friday, 12th December, leaves Kenya on Sunday, 14th December 2014.