President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday reached out to Benin in his latest quest to expand the export market for Kenya’s products, including coffee, tea and fresh produce.
The President pitched for the new market for Kenyan exports when he held talks with President Patrice Talon of Benin that focused on deepening economic ties between Kenya and the West African nation.
He also spoke strongly on expanding intra-Africa trade, including through improved air services to better link African cities. Uhuru met President Talon—who is on an official visit—at State House, Nairobi, and expressed the need for the two countries to increase their bilateral trade. The meeting with the Benin leader is part of Uhuru’s Pan African focus to accelerate intra-Africa trade.
“Key to decreased dependence on western markets is optimal utilisation of our domestic markets thus boosting intra-African trade,” he said. Currently, trade between Kenya and Benin is limited largely due to the disadvantage of geographical distance and absence of direct transport between the two countries.
President Talon said he wanted Uhuru to lead a campaign for greater access by African airlines into African capitals, saying it was easier to fly to France from Cotonou (Benin largest city) than to fly to neighbouring Niger.
“We need one to three strong African airlines, to be allowed to make these inter-city connections. Like Kenya Airways, like Ethiopian Airlines. This is important for our continent,” President Talon said. Kenya Airways, the national carrier, already flies thrice a week between Nairobi and Cotonou.