From 9 to 11 September, Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets joins President Kersti Kaljulaid on a state visit to Kenya, and met with the Foreign Minister of Kenya Raychelle Awuor Omamo. They discussed the bilateral relations of Estonia and Kenya, cooperation in the UN Security Council, the COVID-19 situation in Africa and the world, and digital options for supporting developing societies.
Kenya is an influential country in the region and highly appreciates Estonia’s experience in social development and advancing digital governance. “We are fellow members with Kenya at the UN Security Council until the end of this year and see great potential for cooperation in international peace and security as well as digital development and economic cooperation. We also have a shared interest in education cooperation,” the foreign minister said.
Liimets noted that since Kenya is immediately affected by the crises of the Horn of Africa, its assessment of their gravity, extent and resolution prospects is crucial.
The ministers also had a separate discussion on the COVID-19 situation in Africa and its impact on the region’s people and economy. “Vaccination has progressed quickly in European countries since the start of this year, and there is increasing talk of the need for third doses. However, many countries in the world lack access to vaccines and are yet to begin extensive vaccination. This issue demands greater attention from the international community because the virus knows no national borders and to prevent new strains from emerging and defeat the pandemic, we need to be able to protect all people across the world,” Foreign Minister Liimets said.
Touching on digital topics, the ministers highlighted the memorandum of understanding on digital cooperation signed by Estonia and Kenya. “Today, we are signing a similar memorandum for continued comprehensive dialogue for holding political consultations and healthcare,” the foreign minister said, adding that, with support from the European Union and other partners, a lot has been done to further develop e-governance in Kenya.
“Kenya is an important partner for us in Africa, and we would like to have a closer cooperation in education, research, healthcare, business and the digital and green transition. We would like to support women, young people and children in particular,” Liimets said. “This is why I am very glad to launch several development cooperation projects with the president. These include Opiq that advances e-education and aims to improve awareness of creating and using digital learning materials, and sharing Estonia’s experience in achieving improved school education.”
The foreign minister and President Kaljulaid will attend a meeting with UN agencies and an Estonian-Kenyan business forum organised in close cooperation with the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Enterprise Estonia and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. They will also visit Strathmore University, where a development cooperation project for e-governance will be presented for the first time with Taltech.
September saw the start of many cooperation projects with Kenya, including the project of the Estonian Refugee Council, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, providing humanitarian aid in local refugee settlements. The Timbeter project for sustainable forest management and the Mondo project for digital capabilities as well as Reet Aus' circular economy project are also underway. A Garage-48 hackathon for young people in Kenya is also ongoing.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia