Barbados has made a pitch for significant investment from Kenya in a range of Barbadian industries – from renewable energy and tourism to the planned medical cannabis industry – as it seeks to deepen economic and trade ties with the east African nation.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley made the announcement on Thursday following a meeting with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and officials from both countries at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
“We believe that investment shouldn’t only be at the level of large investors or wealthy investors, but if we can create the opportunities… and if we can leapfrog into a digital framework and at the same time create the instruments for the export of capital for investment in renewable energy in Kenya, investment in industry in tourism and for Kenyans equally to invest back into Barbados in the traditional economy such as tourism, but also in the new economy in renewable energy and medical cannabis, then I believe that we will have a platform that will benefit all of us,” She said.
Indicating that discussions were embryonic, Mottley promised to have further talks with the private sector as well as at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) level on various possibilities for deeper collaboration.
The Prime Minister gave the assurance that both nations were committed to creating the opportunities for their residents.
She said Bridgetown and Nairobi were seeking to deepen cooperation on health, manufacturing, education and trade, as well as investment in air and sea transport, tourism and renewable energy.
On the subject of health, Mottley revealed that student doctors in Bridgetown could soon find themselves getting job attachments in Nairobi.
This comes just over a month after she indicated that Barbados would be looking to source close to 400 nurses from Ghana to help with the island’s shortage of nurses.
Mottley said: “One of the other important points that we also agreed this morning is the possibility for deeper collaboration in medical training of doctors.
“Our constraint in Barbados has always been and will always be the capacity for internships because internships depend on the ratio to hospital beds.”
With a population of over 46 million people in Kenya there were more opportunities there for training attachments of Barbadians studying medicine, she said.
The two nations’ foreign ministers took a step closer to deepening areas of collaboration and cooperation with the signing of two memoranda of understanding this morning – on the establishment of a joint commission for cooperation and on political consultations.
Outlining the areas for cooperation, Mottley said she was also hoping to “look at a multilateral air services agreement by the end of September”.
As it relates to the blue economy and tourism, the Prime Minister said she believed there were opportunities for training, product development and investment, adding that there was absolutely no reason for individuals not to invest in each other’s country.
President Kenyatta said the areas discussed were of mutual importance on an “abundance” of opportunities.
Insisting that they “need to work out how today we can work together to create justice, opportunity and prosperity for our people”, Kenyatta said for too long the engagement between Africa and the Caribbean had been by third parties.
“We need now to strengthen our own direct collaboration,” he said
He said the areas discussed were the key ones that could “make and have immediate gains”.
The president said: “We recognise that in order to really deepen people to people of our two countries, we also need to focus on economic collaboration – how do we get our businesspeople to cross invest, how do we get our businesspeople to do more trade with one another.
“If we were to succeed in that we have actually succeed in joining our two regions at the hip.”
The two leaders acknowledged that issues relating to shipping logistics would have to be ironed out in an effort to provide a boost to cross-border trading and investment, he said.
Adding that he and the Prime Minister intend to be “leading from the front”, Kenyatta said: “We want to be the pioneers and give the political will necessary to ensure we bring our people close together”.