Somalia and Kenya sign further co-operation agreement
Friday, June 07, 2013
Kenya and Somalia on Sunday officially launched the Joint Commission of Cooperation (JCC) to help boost bilateral ties between the two countries.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs Amina Mohammed told journalists in Nairobi that the JCC will provide a framework for the promotion of ties as well as enhancing of all future engagements.
"The JCC will identify the key priority areas that both countries will work on, in order to strengthen bilateral links," Mohammed said.
The launch came barely two months after Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somalia’s President Hassan Mohamud signed a Joint Statement of Understanding.
The JCC is a culmination of wide ranging consultation on matters of mutual bilateral and regional interest between the Kenya’s government and the visiting high level Somali delegation that includes the Minister of State for Finance Mohammed Bashir.
Both nations have already signed an agreement on Technical and Economic Cooperation in September 2005 as well as a Memorandum of Understanding on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building in March 2009.
"However, the implementation of the agreements faced challenges, including the instability in Somalia," Mohammed said.
The Horn of Africa nation has already started talks with East Africa Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (EACCIA) as it seeks to attract regional investors to help it rebuild its economy.
The Horn of Africa nation has not been in the mainstream regional business since early 1990s when the central administration collapsed, giving way to a civil war that nearly ended following the intervention of the African Union through the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The discussions have been ongoing and culminated in a visit there by members of the EACCIA in April.
Analysts say the Horn of Africa nation has improved security which has enhanced investor confidence, including those seeking contracts in reconstruction in a country where infrastructure has been reduced to a bare minimum by over 20 years of war.
Somalia is considered a virgin investment market usually characterized by high levels of return on investment, raising the appetite for regional investors.
According to the Kenyan government, the JCC will upscale engagements including cross-border security, joint infrastructure development projects as well as cultural exchanges.
"Technical experts from the two countries will commence discussions within two weeks in order to lay the ground for the implementation of the JCC," Mohammed said.
She noted that the good relations between neighbors also have occasional hiccups.
"That’s why both nations agreed on the JCC in order to deal with issues as they crop up," she said.
She noted that following bilateral talks, Kenya and Somalia will co-host a Somalia conference before the end of 2013.
"We have agreed to hold a meeting in Nairobi that will focus on the best way of repatriating Somalia’s refugees back," she said.
The cabinet secretary added that the conference will also provide a platform to discuss ways of raising funds for the repatriation process.
"In order to ensure that refugees’ lives are not in danger, we will wait until the security situation improves in Somalia.
"We will also ensure that they can engage in economic activities without any hindrance," she noted.
Mohammed added that Kenya’s quest to join the United Nations Security Council is not hinged on the current International Criminal Court cases involving Kenya’s President and his deputy.
"We have been out of the council for a long time and so we wish to participate in the decision making process.
"Every current member of the council has issues which it wants prioritized," she said.
Visiting Somali Deputy Prime Minister Fawzia Adam said that the JCC is a sign of closeness of the two countries.
"It will also help promote peace and security both in Somalia as well as the whole of the Horn of Africa region," he said.
Adam, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that her country has restored a lot of the basic social services that were disrupted by the 20 year civil turmoil.
"Today as we speak, things are a lot better, except for a few pockets that are occupied by the Al-Shabaab militant group," she said.
After decades of factional fighting, the Horn of Africa nation has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with a series of landmark steps that have helped bring an end to the country’s nine-year political transition period and the resulting security vacuum which rendered Somalia one of the most lawless states on the planet.
These steps included the adoption of a Provisional Constitution, the establishment of a new Parliament and the appointments of a new President and a new prime minister.
She said that the JCC will also provide a framework for the engagement of the private sector of both nations.
"This will help to develop trade among the countries," the Somali government official said.
She also praised the Kenya’s generosity for hosting the largest number of Somalia’s refugees.
Other neighboring countries such Yemen, Djibouti are also hosting Somalia’s refugees.
"Kenya has also played a significant role in stabilizing Somalia through the deployment of troops for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)," she said.
The deputy prime minister added that Somalia is currently on the right path and will soon be ready to accept back its refugees.
Adam said that the Somalia conference slated for Nairobi later this year will provide the timelines for the safe return of Somalia’s refugees.
"It will not be an overnight process," she said.
She added that already a few members of the Somalia Diaspora are returning back.
"However, it is not until security returns to all part of the country, will we enjoy a peace dividend," she said.