Spain today lauded President Kenyatta over his unwavering war against corruption and economic crimes in the country.
Speaking when he paid the President a courtesy call at State House, Nairobi, Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation Joseph Borrell Fontelles said the current determination to end graft will go along way in building confidence among investors across the world.
The Minister further praised President Kenyatta for the March 9, 2018 historic handshake with opposition leader Raila Odinga, an initiative he said continues to ensure the country enjoys peace and stability for which it is known for in a troubled region.
“The handshake was a good example on how to overcome internal conflicts and disagreements,’ said Fontelles.
On the government’s Big 4 agenda, President Kenyatta and his guest agreed to explore a partnership on social housing for the low income earners especially in urban areas.
The Minister said Spain is ready to engage and participate towards the achievement of the affordable housing pillar of the Big 4 Agenda.
“We have many firms that can be good partners in affordable housing,” said the visiting Minister.
Spain has a unique social housing model where construction, renovation and buying of houses are subsidized by the state through reduced interest loans to providers. Houses developed under this scheme, dubbed ‘Vivienda de Proteccion Publica’ (publicly protected housing) are provided to the public almost entirely on owner-occupation terms, rather than for rent.
Under the affordable housing pillar of the Big 4 agenda, Kenya plans to put up at least 500,000 affordable houses by 2022.
The Spanish Minister welcomed Kenya’s continued efforts to improve operations at the Port of Mombasa saying his country welcomes the reforms the country has taken to enhance efficiency at the facility.
President Kenyatta assured Spain that Kenya is doing everything possible to streamline operations at Kenya’s Mombasa gateway besides de-congesting the port.
“The port was a big loophole for us. We are working on it and soon all the systems will be streamlined,” said the President.
He added: “In about a month, we will be able to see great changes at the port. We are trying to ensure the importation of goods is streamlined.”
President Kenyatta also welcomed Spain’s proposal for a partnership to develop Kenya’s tourist sites and enhance tourist experiences especially in scuba diving, a hobby that’s becoming a major tourist attraction in the country.
Kenya and Spain also agreed to pursue partnerships in the areas of renewable energy, particularly in solar and wind energy, to enable Kenya lower the cost of electricity especially in the nascent industrial parks that are aimed at building the country’s economic muscle.
The two countries further agreed to develop partnerships in sports especially in football and athletics. Spain is famed for its highly developed football while Kenya is an African powerhouse in athletics.
“We are keen on developing football academies across the country where we can start training our youth on the sport from early ages,” said President Kenyatta.
“Our objective is to tap and develop the football talents of young people and transform this potential into rewarding engagements,” he added.
President Kenyatta and the Spanish Minister underscored the importance of multilateralism in the global war against terrorism and violent extremism.
“Terrorism is a great concern for us. We have suffered terrorism so we understand,” said President Kenyatta adding that it is through solidarity and commitment between nations that the threat of terrorism can be defeated.
Kenya and Spain agreed to support each other during the forthcoming United Nations Security Council (UNSC) elections where both nations are candidates for UN seats.
President Kenyatta sent a message of goodwill to President Pedro Sanchez who he also invited to visit Kenya at a convenient date. The visiting minister also invited President Kenya to Spain for a reciprocal visit.
During the visit by the Minister, Spain and Kenya signed three protocols on political relations, foreign service training and on the protection of investments.
Those at the meeting included Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Dr. Monica Juma , State House Deputy Chief of Staff incharge of Policy and Strategy Ms Ruth Kaggia and ambassador Jean Kimani, the Director for Europe and the Commonwealth.
The visiting minister was accompanied by Spanish Ambassador to Kenya Javier Garcia de Viedma and other top officials.