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Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 5.05 GMT

President returns from State visit to Kenya
Vast potential to enhance Sri Lanka Kenya investment opportunities


President Mahinda Rajapaksa returned to the island yesterday following a successful state visit to Kenya, the first by a Sri Lankan head of state to that country.

In addition to attending Kenya's 50th Independence Day celebrations, the visit aimed to enhance bilateral relations and open up new collaborative economic opportunities for the two countries and their business communities.

"I believe there is much potential to strengthen trade and economic relations between our two countries," President Rajapaksa said to President Kenyatta during the bilateral discussions.

Currently, there are approximately 200 Sri Lankans living in Kenya with a number of them engaged in large projects in a variety of sectors from apparel and horticulture to motor vehicle trade. One other area Sri Lankan businesses have already identified as having large investment opportunities (not only in Kenya, but throughout Africa) is the power and energy sector.

"Sri Lankan private companies have invested in the power and energy sector in African states, and they have the capacity and desire to extend their business and services in the region," President Rajapaksa said.

One of those projects is the "Nanyuki Transmission Project," built by Sri Lanka's LTL Holdings (Pvt) Ltd. It was handed over to the Kenyan Government during this state visit in the presence of the two leaders.

The tea and coconut industries are two other areas that Sri Lankan and Kenyan investors can explore for mutual benefit. According to Tea Board of Kenya, the country had produced an average of about 360 kilograms of tea annually during the past five years. This year, so far, it had produced a total of 365 million kilograms.

During the bilateral discussions, the Kenyan delegation noted that it would be beneficial for tea producing countries to collectively approach tea markets. They also indicated keen interest in learning best practices from Sri Lanka on value addition for tea and noted that Kenya would benefit from exchange visits to share knowledge and experiences. President Kenyatta also highlighted Kenya's desire to learn from Sri Lanka's experiences in the coconut industry.

Investment opportunities between the two countries are likely to be better facilitated following the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Both President Rajapaksa and President Kenyatta acknowledged that connectivity is key in enhancing all forms of relations between the two countries, be it economic, cultural or social. Towards this end, President Rajapaksa and President Kenyatta agreed to work to work towards two specific objectives: Establishing direct air links between the two capitals and enhancing links between the Ports of Mombassa, Colombo and Hambantota.

Also during the visit, President Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Wickramasinghe Rajapaksa joined a number of other African leaders for the 50th Independence Day celebrations on Dec. 12 at the Moi International Sports Complex (MISC) in Kasarani on the outskirt of Nairobi.

President Rajapaksa also made a stop at the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) the only U. N. headquarters in Africa and the global south, talked with the Sri Lankan community in Kenya at the Nairobi Buddhist Temple and laid a wreath at the mausoleum of Kenya's first President the late Jomo Kenyatta.

Before arriving in Kenya, President Rajapaksa was on South Africa to attend the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela who passed away last week. The President joined a large number of other world leaders for the memorial service in Johannesburg and paid his last respects to the late President Mandela's remains that were lying in state of Pretoria.

Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of Civil Aviation Mr. Geethanjana Gunawardena, Chief Minister of the Uva Province Mr. Shasheendra Rajapaksa, Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Sajin De Vass Gunawardena and Secretary to the President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga accompanied the President on the visit.





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Last modified: December 17, 2013.

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