President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday commenced his three day state visit in Jamaica where has met Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness. During Bilateral talks, the two leaders pledged to deepen bilateral and people to people ties by introducing direct flights between the countries.
The leaders underscored significance of air connection noting that it will lead to more economic interaction which will in turn spur economic growth in both countries.
“Our national carrier now has scheduled direct flights from Nairobi to New York but we would like to see flights flying from the East Coast to the West Coast of Africa and directly to Jamaica, and through Jamaica to the rest of the Caribbean as a true way of deepening our partnership,” President Uhuru said.
President Kenyatta added that one sure way of deepening the partnership between Kenya and Jamaica is to encourage more trade and deepen commercial ties between the two countries.
“We need to deepen our trade because by so doing we also take our people-to-people relations to the next level. Kenya is today one of the largest and one of the most diversified economies on the African continent,” He added.
The two leaders who met at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kingston, also witnessed the signing of four other agreements among them MoUs on technical cooperation in tourism and in the fields of sports, culture and heritage. Also signed was an MoU Agreement on a framework of cooperation between the two governments And an MoU on Political Consultations.
“We need to deepen our trade because by so doing we also take our people-to-people relations to the next level. Kenya is today one of the largest and one of the most diversified economies on the African continent,” Uhuru said.
Both Kenyatta and Holness further said the two countries will cooperate in sports development especially in athletics, a sport in which the two counties are global icons. Kenya leads in Long distance races while Jamaica is well recognized globally in short distance running.
PM Holness said Kenya and Jamaica have had strong ties from the days of Marcus Garvey whose teachings of African unity had a strong impact on Kenya’s push for independence from the British rule in the 1960’s.
“Jamaica, Kenya relations are deeply rooted. It is well documented that our first national hero The Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey had significant influence on Jomo Kenyatta, the first Prime Minister of Kenya and later its first President,” said PM Holness.
“In that context we also recall the late Dudley Thompson as a Jamaican lawyer and Pan Africanist in East Africa. He was resolute in his staunch defence of Jomo Kenyatta when he was charged with treason by the British colonialist government of the day,” the PM continued.
President Kenyatta who is accompanied by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, was received by his host Prime Minister Holness and Governor General Patrick Allen in a colorful state reception that included a full guard of honour mounted by the Jamaica Defence Forces and a 21-gun salute upon his landing at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
On Tuesday, President Kenyatta will be the chief guest at the 57th Jamaica Independence Day. Before the independence anniversary festival, the President will be the chief guest at the 67th Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Clarendon.
President Kenyatta’s visit comes at a time when the Caribbean is commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of African slaves in the Americas. Promoters of closer links between Africans in the diaspora and the people of the continent are marketing the anniversary as the year of the return.
President Kenyatta is accompanied on the visit by Cabinet Secretaries Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs), Amina Mohamed (Sports) and Najib Balala (Tourism).