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Mon. May 27th, 2024

Kenyan President William Ruto and his Congolese counterpart Denis Sassou Nguesso have strengthened the diplomatic bond between their nations by signing 18 significant cooperation agreements. A key development from the visit is the mutual decision to abolish visa restrictions, which will enhance the ease of travel and promote increased bilateral relations.

Upon his arrival in Congo-Brazzaville, President Ruto addressed a gathering of parliament members, highlighting the pressing issue of climate change in Africa. He emphasized that despite contributing just 4% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, the continent bears the brunt of its devastating effects. Additionally, President Ruto expressed concern over the burden of debt payments faced by low-income African nations, accounting for a staggering 24% of their GDP, a situation that hampers their economic growth and development.

President Ruto welcomed the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), acknowledging its potential to dismantle barriers and foster intra-African trade. Currently, such trade accounts for a mere 17% compared to the substantial 70% within the European Union. To facilitate smoother movement of people and goods between Kenya and Congo-Brazzaville, President Ruto announced the elimination of visa requirements. He stated, “The Government of Kenya has taken the decision to waive visa requirements for citizens of Congo-Brazzaville, enabling us to enhance trade and strengthen our bilateral ties. This is a crucial step for our people, entrepreneurs, and various stakeholders.”

Notably, one agreement focused specifically on the visa abolition, while the remaining 17 agreements spanned diverse sectors such as agriculture, livestock, environment, tourism, mining industries, geology, diplomatic training, and cooperative promotion.

President Ruto expressed his keen interest in reestablishing Kenya Airways flights between Nairobi and Brazzaville by the end of this year. The air service had ceased operations to the Congolese capital several years ago, and its revival would contribute to enhanced connectivity and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Following the signing of the agreements, President Ruto and President Sassou Nguesso attended a dinner hosted in the banquet hall of the People’s Palace. This prestigious setting provided an opportunity for further discussions and strengthening of the bilateral relationship. President Ruto then proceeded to his stronghold in Oyo, located 400 kilometers north of Brazzaville, continuing his mission to strengthen Kenya’s regional ties.

The newly forged cooperation deals and the removal of visa restrictions mark a significant milestone in the diplomatic relations between Kenya and Congo-Brazzaville. The move is expected to foster economic growth, trade expansion, and cultural exchange between the two nations, while serving as an example of regional cooperation within the African continent.

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