Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle, has hailed Barbados’ recent moves to deepen ties with African countries as a step in the right direction.
Last week Prime Minister Mia Mottley hosted President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta on a three-day State visit, almost two months after the Ghanaian leader Nana Akufo-Addopaid paid an official visit to the island.
“There has really been a gap in our development and our international partnership that we have not forged the relationship that we needed to forge with the African continent.
“As you’re aware, the president of Ghana was with us, and Ghana is one of the fastest growing economies on the continent and certainly in West Africa the one that is leading the way. In east Africa the Republic of Kenya is responsible for half the GDP, and is really making tremendous strides in terms of ease of doing business,” Caddle told Barbados TODAY, following a reception at Ilaro Court in Kenyatta’s honour.
Caddle noted that a Cabinet sub-committee has been tasked with the responsibility of facilitating business to enable Barbados to improve its global ranking.
“It’s a very practical approach to making sure that we move from where we are to being in the top 50. Kenya has moved from 170-something to 61 in ease of doing business. Because they have just gone boots on the ground in a range of business reforms, and that is what Barbados is poised to do.
“When it comes to things like maritime affairs, blue economy, logistics and transport, there are a range of issues, tourism and being able to partner in terms of helping them with their marine tourism product, there are so many things on which we can collaborate,” Caddle stated.
Local Pan Africanist David Denny also welcomed the visit.
Denny, the general secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration, told Barbados TODAY that Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean could benefit from closer relations with countries of the African continent.
“I think we need to look at the development of trade in terms of bringing tourists from Africa to our region. We also need to develop bilateral relationships in terms of education, in terms of health and also in terms of manufacturing and different industries,” he said.
He added that there are also opportunities for both countries in the development of the agriculture sector.
“I think there’s a lot that we can learn from Kenya and other African countries in terms of agriculture because agriculture is no longer a system where you just plow the land. Agriculture is also about creating new industries, new products and by-products in the agriculture industry.”
“I also want to see the youth being able to develop projects where they can work in collaboration with young men and women in Kenya, and I want to be able to see where the trade union movement can have a relationship between Barbados and Kenya, and Pan Africanists between Barbados and Kenya,” he noted.
Although Barbados formally established diplomatic ties with Nairobi in 2014, Denny noted that relations between the two countries went back even further.
“Barbadians have been travelling back to Africa in terms of the repatriation movement and there are many Barbadians who went back to Kenya and worked [there] as teachers,” he stated.
Addressing a welcome reception at Government House last Wednesday, Kenyatta also referred to the first Pan African conference held in London in 1900, in which Barbados and other Caribbean countries participated.
Denny noted that the London conference was the first step towards ending colonialism in those countries.
“That Pan African conference helped to develop the process for many African countries to fight for the independence in the English speaking African countries as well as the English speaking Caribbean countries. So it was not just [an ordinary] conference, but it was a conference that developed a movement for independence,” Denny said.
He added that as a result of last week’s talks between Prime Minister Mottley and President Kenyatta, he would also like to see greater partnerships between the youth, trade unions and Pan Africanists of both countries. (MCW)