Kenya and Somaliland will work towards building strong trade and economic ties. The two nations hope to achieve this by encouraging cross border investments.
At a meeting in Nairobi on Thursday, Trade and Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and Somaliland envoy to Kenya Bashe Awil Omar discussed the investment opportunities that can be explored for the benefit of the two nations.
The two said that plans are underway to have direct flights from Nairobi to Hargeisa, Somaliland.
They said that there are plans to link the port of Mombasa and that of Barbera in Somaliland.
Mr Munya is expected to meet Somaliland Trade minister to work on how the two countries can work together.
“There is so much Kenya and Somaliland can gain from each other,” Mr Munya said after his meeting Mr Bashe on Thursday.
“Kenya is a big economy in the region, but we cannot live and operate in isolation. We need our neighbours and Somaliland offers more opportunities for Kenyan investors,” said Mr Munya.
Trade between Kenya and Somaliland is low due to lack of direct flights between the two countries.
Mr Munya said Kenya stands to gain from miraa trade.
Somaliland spends over Sh54 billion annually on Ethiopian miraa. The sector is a key source of employment in Somaliland.
In 2016, while sitting as Meru Governor, Mr Munya visited Somaliland capital Hargeisa to look for miraa market.
Mr Munya said Kenyan miraa is charged 300 per cent duty while the Ethiopian khat is charged 100 per cent duty, making it impossible to compete.
“The miraa market in Somaliland is worth about Sh40 billion which Meru farmers should have a share,” Munya said.
Mr Munya said he will persuade the government of Somaliland to remove the obstacles that have hindered the export of miraa to Hargeisa.
“If we strengthen stronger economic and trade ties, we will be able to export khat without problems,” said the minister.
Somaliland also imports dairy products from Kenya.
Somaliland broke away from the Federal Republic of Somalia in 1991.
The country, which has claimed autonomy from the main Somalia government, is on a mission to initiate relationships with regional states as it prepares to campaign for recognition by the African Union and United Nations.
Mr Bashe said Kenya and his country stand to gain from the expansion of the Berbera Port which, he said, would work in collaboration with the port of Mombasa.
“We (Somaliland) have offered to share areas we are strong in especially in livestock trade and we invite traders at the Mombasa port too to explore their areas of strength and work with Berbera port,” said Mr Bashe.
“During our meeting with Mr Munya, we discussed how to promote trade between Kenya and Somaliland and foster relationship that is mutually beneficial to both countries, “said Mr Bashe.
He added: “We want to work closely with businessmen from Kenya. There are so many investment opportunities in Somaliland. We already have business and trade links with the United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia and we want to open doors for Kenyan business community.”