Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Kenya visit to boost ties

President Uhuru Kenyatta (R) with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria. Mr Kenyatta arrived in the West African country on May 4, 2014. PHOTO | PPS| FILE

What you need to know:

  • Mr Jonathan is expected to travel in with an entourage of about 100 businesspeople who would later hold a joint meeting with their Kenyan counterparts on possible business co-operations, buy-outs or even mergers.
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government in May announced a total war on drug traffickers and Mr Kenyatta directed that foreign traffickers be deported. A number of foreigners have since been taken to their homelands including Ethiopia, Guinea, and Nigeria.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is expected in the country Thursday evening for a three-day visit in what State House said was “to boost bilateral and trade ties” between the two countries.

Mr Jonathan and his delegation of several thousand businesspeople would land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 4pm where he will be met by President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret.

According to a statement from State House, Mr Jonathan would be met by President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta. It would be the first time a Nigerian president is touring Kenya on a state visit in as many as 26 years and several business and cooperation agreements are expected to be signed.

On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed said the Nigerian leader’s trip would be “an incredibly significant visit for both countries” because it would help enhance business opportunities.

“Nigeria is a very strong country in the West (of Africa), it is an economic powerhouse. We consider it important to our country and I think his visit is something people should watch,” she said.

“We will sign several agreements including one on cooperation in some of the areas that we have had challenges in,” she said.

Nigeria, with a market of 130 million people is a potential market for Kenyan products, but Ms Mohammed admitted the business has not been good because of inadequate interactions between the two countries. Exports from Kenya for instance dropped from Sh3 billion per year in 2010 to Sh2.9 billion in 2012.

Nigeria though has benefited its movie industry by getting a ready market in Kenyan sitting rooms.

In addition, there are several Nigerian Banks such as UBA and Eco Bank operating in Kenya.

“The other challenge we have is attracting investments because we were working for a long time, on agreements on the avoidance of double taxation and protection of investment,” the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary added “Without those it is difficult to attract investments to the country.”

Mr Jonathan is expected to travel in with an entourage of about 100 businesspeople who would later hold a joint meeting with their Kenyan counterparts on possible business co-operations, buy-outs or even mergers. The conference would be at the Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday.

WAR AGAINST DRUGS

This would be one of several engagements by the West African leader but it is also understood that he would hold lengthy bilateral talks with his host at State House. Foreign Affairs said there would be a possibility for a cooperative agreement on how to handle anti-narcotics campaigns.

“Of course in the area of narcotic drugs: That is an area too that we will be signing an agreement on so that we can cooperate much more closely because our views are the same on this. We have the same position on it and we intend to work very closely on that issue.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government in May announced a total war on drug traffickers and Mr Kenyatta directed that foreign traffickers be deported. A number of foreigners have since been taken to their homelands including Ethiopia, Guinea, and Nigeria.

But the expected agreement is seen as a move to correct the errors committed when government officials deported three Nigerians in June and ended up detained for 23 days in Lagos. Then, Nigerian security officials had claimed that the deporting aircraft had “flouted security procedures” when it landed in Nigeria. Mr Jonathan himself intervened before the six Kenyan officials were released.

The last such state visit to Nairobi was by the then Nigerian president Ibrahim Babaginda although it would be Jonathan’s second visit under the Kenyatta administration. He was last in Kenya during Mr Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration in April.

Mr Jonathan is visiting on the invitation of President Kenyatta following bilateral talks between the two in July on the sidelines of an HIV conference in Abuja. Prior to the Foreign Affairs Ministry contracted a Nigeria-based consulting firm, Ashanti Research to conduct a survey on what need to be done to elevate the two countries’ relationships.

The firm submitted its report Thursday. Among its recommendations is that both Kenya and Nigeria should invest in technology and change some of their laws to lure investors, especially on taxation and immigration.

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