Manoah Esipisu, the High Commissioner of Kenya to the UK, hosted a celebration at Lancaster House to mark the 60th anniversary of Kenya's independence.
The event was attended by dignitaries from both countries, including the Prime Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs of the Republic of Kenya Musalia Mudavadi, ambassadors, high commissioners, and representatives from international organizations.
Strong UK-Kenya Relations
In his speech, Esipisu highlighted the close and cordial relationship between Kenya and the UK, which encompasses collaboration in various areas such as defence, security, economic development, trade, education, health, workforce development, and climate change.
"Our relations have remained strong, and I dare say have become even stronger over the pst few years, overcoming a difficult interlude wrought by Covid," Esipisu stated.
He commended the 2020 Strategic Partnership Agreement and expressed optimism about the upcoming mid-term review.
"This Jamhuri has been an opportune time for the two countries to review our relations," he added.
Trade and Economic Partnership
Esipisu noted the importance of the UK-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in strengthening trade relations and securing market access for Kenyan products after Brexit.
"Another key milestone, the signing of the UK-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in 2020 marked an important step towards strengthening trade relations and securing market access for Kenyan products after Brexit," Esipisu said.
"I note with appreciation that the UK is one of the largest destinations of Kenya’s tea - and I never tire to remind you that one in every two cups of tea drunk in the UK is from Kenya. "
He emphasized the significance of tea exports to the UK economy and highlighted other sectors like agriculture, technology, and services that offer promising future collaborations.
"As you know, we pride ourselves as a growing tech hub and of having a tech-savvy young population, which looks at services as a provision of jobs of now and tomorrow. So that's the next focus of our trade engagement," he remarked.
Security and Defense Cooperation
The High Commissioner acknowledged the valuable partnership between Kenya and the UK in defence and security matters.
He commended the UK and other partners for their engagement and investments, which have contributed to regional stability.
"We thank the UK and all our other partners for this engagement, investments and action which are contributing to greater stability in the region," he said.
Collaboration in Research and Education
Esipisu lauded the growing collaboration between universities in both countries, particularly through the Kenya-UK Health Alliance.
"At the core of the thinking is UK universities and research institutions working with Kenyan ones to deliver solutions to areas of challenge in Kenya, our region and around the world. Cancer for one is an area of concern. Diabetes. Nutrition. And University of Manchester, Christie NHS, Liverpool and London universities of tropical medicine are all engaged," Esipisu stated.
He highlighted initiatives like the University of Manchester's research on cancer, diabetes, and nutrition, and expressed Kenya's continued interest in assisting the UK with its labour shortages.
Kenyan Diaspora's Contributions
Esipisu also noted the contributions of Kenyans in the UK, particularly those who embody the spirit of service and compassion.
"Lastly, as we reflect on the 60 years of Kenya’s independence, I cannot end my remarks without a special mention of Kenyans who embody and continue to emulate our freedom fighters," Esipisu stated.
"Their selfless service to humanity across the UK including during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the adage of being our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. Huge applause to the frontline health workers, doctors, nurses, caregivers, lecturers, teachers, drivers, retail and supermarket workers, and those in fintech among others who continue to play individual roles to ensure that the UK society continues as normally as possible during this unprecedented time."
He specifically praised Professor Veronica Moraa Pickering, the first woman and first person of colour to be appointed His Majesty's Lord Lieutenant for Nottinghamshire, Professor Washington Yotto Ochieng who established scholarships for engineering students in sub-Saharan Africa, and Frederick Akandi who donated ambulances and fire engines to Africa.
Renewed Commitment and Future Cooperation
High Commissioner Esipisu reaffirmed Kenya's commitment to working closely with the UK and expressed his confidence in the potential for further growth and collaboration between the two countries.
He expressed his eagerness to work with partners to realize this potential.
This celebration at Lancaster House serves as a strong testament to the enduring relationship between Kenya and the UK, and it offers a promising outlook for continued collaboration in the years to come.