Barbados and Kenya remain committed to working together to build a strong business alliance that will benefit both nations.
This was the common theme yesterday as the two-day Safari Oceans Kenya-Barbados Business Alliance Forum, hosted by Export Barbados (BIDC), kicked off at the Hilton Hotel, bringing together stakeholders from various industries in the two countries. Kenyan business executives from sectors, including fintech, finance, energy, tourism, oil and gas, and telecommunications have traveled here to advance relationships with their Barbadian counterparts, and to take the collaboration between the two states to a higher level.
Delivering remarks during the opening ceremony, Minister of International Business and Industry, Ronald Toppin, said there is significant untapped potential within the respective economies. He is therefore confident that the key output of the Business Alliance - to generate US$50 million in trade from products and services from the two markets by 2025, is attainable.
“Despite the distance between our shores, we can be strategic and innovative in our approaches and partnerships, utilizing platforms of advancing technology to enhance the international business and financial landscape. Indeed, Barbados sees the partnership with Kenya as an important step in Barbados’ global thrust to be the place to live and work,” said Minister Toppin.
The International Business and Industry Minister added that Kenya’s 46 million strong population also presents a “wealth of opportunities” for Barbadian producers, adding that there is growing interest in franchising and offshore manufacturing by Barbadian investors and businesses seeking to expand their global footprint across Africa. He stressed that as East Africa’s hub for communication, transport and financial services, in addition to being one of Africa’s leading economies, Kenya provides a long anticipated gateway to Africa in relation to travel and trade.
The Minister therefore anticipates that the drive to expand Barbados’ trade in goods and services towards the US$50 million target, will lead to greater opportunities within the Kenyan market for some of this island’s premier products and services. He noted that healthcare services including eye care, fertility and neurological services; renewable energy solutions; education; IT services and medical devices such as optical lenses, were among the areas Barbados could promote, to achieve the 2025 goal.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, Betty Maina, in her remarks, said it is that country’s intention to “really deepen” the connections between Africa and the Caribbean. Noting that she was pleased that Kenya and Barbados have chosen to be pioneers in that journey, the Cabinet Secretary noted that there is a need to facilitate a direct flight between the two countries to aid in strengthening the existing ties.
Hon. Maina also spoke in glowing terms about the Barbados tourism product, noting that there were lessons that Kenya could learn from this island.
“We are very impressed by your tourism and your tourism products. As we took the catamaran sailing yesterday, we wondered ‘we have a large coastline, why don’t we do stuff like this?’. So I am hoping the business executives that were present would be inspired to also think of other such offerings... We’ve not exploited our blue economy as much as we would have liked to, and I think this sort of business interaction would bring a lot of inspiration”.
Cabinet Secretary Maina said there is a lot of room for collaboration between Barbados and Kenya in numerous areas including the manufacturing of industrial technology products, so that we are not simply the users of technology, but producers as well.
Day One also featured presentations from the Governors of the Central Bank of Barbados and Kenya, as well as officials from the Barbados Port Inc., the Kenya Port Authority and the chambers of commerce of the two nations. The forum continues today at the Hilton Hotel with energy, investment, tourism and the work of the standards bureaus to be highlighted.