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The East African : May 10th 2015
The EastAfrican OUTLOOK MAY 9-15,2015 Q &A WI T H MAHMO U D AL I JAL A AT EAC, Comesa, SADC trade barriers due to poor maritime transport links Kenya and Egypt recently signed a framework for co-operation. The Egyptian ambassador to Kenya talked to FRED OLUOCH about trade ties between the two countries In January, Kenya and Egypt signed a joint commission to revitalise bilateral co-operation in trade, peace and security, culture, education and health. What has been the progress so far? Since the two governments set the framework for co-operation, a consortium of up to 40 companies from Egypt have visited Kenya to try to invest. There are some who are willing to establish vehicle assembly factories in Kenya. These companies will create hundreds of jobs and training opportunities. On the security side, both coun- tries are fighting terrorism. The violence we are seeing in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood and in Kenya by Al Shabaab is not about Islam. We have to increase our cooperation to deal with the challenges both countries are facing. How about agriculture and health? There has been major progress in the health sector. The publicfunded 57357 Hospital in Egypt — which specialises in treating cancer in children — has offered 50 specialised training opportunities for Kenyan medical workers in the field of oncology every year. This includes doctors, pharmacists and nurses. Besides donating modern medi- cal equipment to Kenyatta National Hospital, 10 Kenyan children suffering from cancer will be given free treatment in Egypt every year. Egypt has said it regards Kenya as a strategic ally as Cairo refashions its foreign policy to focus more on subSaharan Africa. Why Kenya? Egypt has in the past concen- trated on its relations with the European Union, the United States, Palestine and Israel. Unfortunately we did not give enough attention to our brothers in sub-Saharan Africa. But now the new government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is focusing on Africa because nobody will help the continent apart from Africans themselves. Kenya is a natural ally because of its position as East Africa’s largest economy and it is proving to be a strategic partner. Is Egypt ready to open up its market to more Kenyan goods? Both countries are members of Comesa and Kenyan companies are free to trade with Egypt at the business-to-busines level. At the government level, we are planning to increase the volume of Kenyan tea imported to Egypt annually BIO Studied at the American University in Cairo and graduated with a BA in economics in 1987. Joined the Commercial International Bank for two years. March 1989- joined the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Department. 1991-1995- Diplomatic attaché at the Egyptian embassy in Tanzania Went back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Department of River Nile. 1996-2000- worked at the Egyptian embassy in Poland 2000-2002- Department of International Economic Relations 2002-2006- Egyptian embassy in Ukraine, head of the Department of Eastern and Southern European states. 2007-2011- posted to Portugal as the deputy head of mission 2011- Director in the office of Assistant Minister for American Affairs 2012-2014- Deputy minister for regional economic relations June 25, 2014- Egyptian ambassador to Kenya. to more than 250 million kilogrammes. We are currently in discussions on how Kenya can provide better prices so that Egypt can import more. Being members of Comesa, Kenyan tea is still cheaper than that from our other sources. There are challenges surrounding the importation of sugar from Egypt. How are the two countries working around this issue? There has been the issue of ori- gin and Kenya has sent a number of missions to Egypt to dispel allegations that we are importing sugar from Brazil, repackaging it and then re-exporting to Kenya. This is not possible because of the cost of transportation from Brazil, repackaging and re-exporting would mean that the sugar would be more expensive than that produced in Kenya. The balance of trade is still in favour of Egypt. How can it be narrowed and what incentives is Egypt offering? We are trying to diversify our imports from Kenya. One measure is increasing our ratio of meat imports. The prices we have been offered are much lower than before, and this will help Kenyan livestock farmers. The Tripartite Free Trade Area involving Comesa, EAC and SADC is set to start in June. What does Egypt see as the benefits and challenges of this new arrangement? We are looking forward to it. This is the framework that will remove most of the existing trade barriers and make the flow of goods easier. It is up to the business people in the three blocs to take advantage of it. But the difficulties in trade between the three blocs can be attributed to the lack of maritime transportation. Most of the goods from Egypt have to go to Dubai for reloading before being dispatched to East Africa. It would be helpful to have a maritime company that would undertake the transportation directly. 31 Did F≥ench soldie≥s ≥ape child≥en in C. Af≥ica? By A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT AFP JUDGES IN France will investigate claims that French soldiers raped children in the Central African Republic. Fourteen soldiers have been placed under investigation following statements by six children aged between nine and 13 that some were sexually abused by French peacekeepers between December 2013 and June 2014. The case has been opened “against unnamed persons for carrying out the rape of minors” and “abusing the authority conferred by their functions”, prosecutor Francois Molins said in a statement. It has been almost a year since the French authorities opened an initial investigation after receiving a leaked internal United Nations report in July 2014. But, despite sending police to the Central African Republic to investigate in August, no children or soldiers were questioned and the allegations were never made public. It was only after they were revealed by The Guardian newspaper last month that the full investigation was launched. Both the French government and UN have denied trying to cover up the potentially devastating scandal, but the UN aid worker who leaked the report was suspended from his job for “breach of protocol.” Diplomatic immunity The French prosecutor said on Thursday that he wanted to wait until he had spoken to the UN aid worker, Swedish national Anders Kompass, before launching the investigation and that the United Nations had refused to lift his diplomatic immunity status as required for a formal interview. Molins said he instead received a written evidence from Kompass on April 29. He did not draw any connection to the fact that April 29 was also the day the story was published in The Guardian. French NGO Innocence in Dan- ger, which works with child victims of violence, said it would take part as a civil party in the judicial investigation. “(We) intend to verify that the ministry of defence, which was advised of this affair several months ago, has not treated the case lightly by not suspending the accused soldiers,” said the NGO’s lawyer, Olivier Morice. “If someone has sullied the flag, because that is what this amounts to, they must say so immediately, because it is treason against their comrades, the image of France and the army’s mission,” said Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
May 3rd 2015
May 17th 2015