Kenya – Finnish Relations Grow Stronger and Better
Finland’s development cooperation with Kenya is aimed at promoting a democratic and accountable society, eradicating poverty through a green economy in the agricultural sector and the improved management and use of water resources. BRIAN MUREITHI reports
Finland is committed to support Kenya fully implement its Constitution and the flagship projects envisioned in the Vision 2030 framework. This was the message of the Finnish ambassador to Kenya, H.E Sofie From-Emmesberger during celebrations to mark the country’s 97th Independence Day anniversary in Nairobi. She said her country was keen to strengthening bilateral relations with Kenya.
“We have continued to work with Kenya as one of the countries of our mandate in the East African region to foster development in, among other fields, forestry, rural development, water, gender and good governance. Through our programmes, we support Kenya’s work in implementing the Constitution and Vision 2030,” said Ms From-Emmesberger.
Through Finpro and the Finnish Export Council, the embassy has sought to create awareness about Kenya’s potential as a destination of choice for investment and tourism. Finpro is a Finnish agency that helps SMEs go international, encourages foreign direct investment in Finland and promotes tourism.
Last year, the embassy organised a seven- city road-show in Finland to promote business opportunities in Kenya. The main focus was on technology. “Informa- tion Communication Technology (ICT) is something that not only connects people, but also countries. It was great, to see Kenya increase its cooperation with Finnish business leaders and mentors in a workshop that we held in May last year in Helsinki. Business and the ICT field will continue to be the focus of the Embassy and Finpro,” said From-Emmesberger.
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the pillars of Vision 2030 are key for Kenya’s economic growth. “Millennium Development Goals are in our minds. The targets set 15 years ago have to be reached,” he said.
Though much progress has been made, there is still a lot of work remaining if Kenya is to achieve the MDGs targets in child and maternal health. Child mortality is one of the major concerns of the development goals. The focus is, however, shifting to the question of the new MDGs to be agreed upon. Kenya and Ireland have been tasked with preparing of the post-2015 millennium goals agenda.
According to the Finnish envoy, the post-MDG preparations will further deepen dialogue and cooperation on issues such as the empowerment of women and peace and security and to integrate these firmly into the new development agenda.
“It is within the multilateral framework of the first UN Environmental Assembly meeting held in Nairobi last year. Results from the meeting will also feed into the post-MDG discussions,” said From-Emmesberger.
The two countries have enjoyed strong bilateral ties for over 30 years and Kenya is Finland’s only long term partner- country in Africa that is not least developed. Finnish international co-operation is underpinned by the Finnish Development Policy Programme of 2012, which lays special emphasis on human rights through target interventions to improve access to justice, gender equality, social and economic rights. It also supports democracy and accountability as well as result- based governance.
Finland’s development cooperation with Kenya seeks to promote a democratic and accountable society, poverty eradication through green economic growth in the agricultural sector, the improved management and use of forest water resources.
Although there are no direct flights between the two countries, the balance trade volume is almost at par. In 2013, trade was estimated at Ksh3.75 billion with Kenyan imports amounting to Ksh1.82 billion while Finland exports to Kenya were estimated at 1.93 billion. Kenya’s imports are mainly horticulture, coffee and tea while Finland exports information communication technology and power plants equipment. In the same year, more than 2000 Finnish nationals visited Kenya while it is estimated that over 700 Kenyans reside in Finland