President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday paid a courtesy call on his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella at his Quirinal Palace in Rome.
President Kenyatta was received by his host and accorded an official state reception that included a guard of honour mounted by a detachment of the Italian military.
The courtesy call, on the margins of President Kenyatta’s official visit to the Vatican, sought to cement Kenya’s long standing relationship with Italy as a key development partner.
During the visit, the two leaders discussed several subjects of mutual interest between Kenya and Italy top among them trade and investment, tourism, and the global fight against Covid-19.
In an interview ahead of the high level courtesy call, Kenya’s Ambassador to Italy Jackline Yonga said the visit was aimed at strengthening Kenya’s strong bilateral ties with the European nation.
“With the visit (President Kenyatta’s), we expect that it will give the confidence to both our peoples (Kenyans and Italians) especially the business community,” Amb Yonga said.
The Kenyan envoy noted that Italy is one of Kenya’s key European trading partners and ranks among the top export destinations for horticultural produce, leather, fish and coffee.
In 2019, the envoy said, Kenya exported goods worth Kes 3.4 billion to the European nation which was a decline from the 2018 figure of Kes 3.9 billion.
Besides trade in commodities, Amb Yonga noted that Italy is among the top tourist and investment source markets for Kenya adding that Italian investors were keen to continue growing their investments in Kenya.
“Once the two Heads of State sit together then the business community falls in place. They (Italian investors) are very much interested in coffee and agribusiness. They’re doing a lot in Konza City. In Malindi, they’ve set base there and are doing some health construction,” Amb Yonga said.
On the fight against Covid-19, Amb Yonga said Italy has lessons to offer Kenya having successfully managed to slow down the spread of the virus from its peak in April and May this year when the European nation was the epicenter of the deadly pandemic.
“You can remember that Italy was the epicenter was Covid begun in March and they’ve managed to overturn that now to be the showcase of the best case study in the way they’ve managed Covid. So Kenya stands to benefit a lot from lessons learnt from their Covid situation,” the Kenyan diplomat said.
Italy is one of the most affected countries in the world by Covid-19 having registered over 40,000 deaths. Just like Kenya, the country is currently fighting a second wave of the outbreak.
President Kenyatta was accompanied during the courtesy call by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amb Raychelle Omamo and Amb Yonga.