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VIDEO and PHOTOS: CS Monica Juma, Senior US official sign key bilateral agreement in Washington

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BY BMJ MURIITHI in Washington DC

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affair and International Trade, Amb Monica Juma, on Tuesday joined the US Deputy Secretary of Sate, John Sullivan, at the State Department headquarters in Washington DC where the two jointly signed the Strategic Dialogue Framework Agreement.

The inaugural Bilateral Strategic Dialogue (BSD) is a follow up to a meeting between Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Donald Trump in August last year when the former visited Washington at the official invitation by the latter.

The two leaders then announced that they had elevated their 50-year relations to strategic partnership.

This, in effect, meant the two countries would enjoy privileged relations that cover political, economic, social and historical fields.

On Tuesday, the US  Department of State tweeted:

 

The focus of the inaugural  bilateral strategic dialogue agreement is mainly security, governance and investments.

Mr Sullivan said the four areas of cooperation that the two governments are keen on are Economic Prosperity, Trade and Investment, Defence Cooperation, Democracy, governance and Civilian Security and Multilateral and regional issues.

During the ceremony, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Peter Nagy Jr said Kenya is  one of US “key friends in the world.”

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Amb Juma led a team of senior government officials, who included Interior CS, Fred Matiang’i and Kenya’s envoy to the United State, Robinson Njeru Githae.

“When we departed Nairobi, President Kenyatta directed us to understand the importance and the meaning of this dialogue and that it must work for the benefit of our peoples and to work together to mitigate and defeat the immediate threat toward security and prosperity together,” said Ms Juma.

Earlier, Ms Juma and her delegation Met with the US Department of Commerce team led by  Deputy Undersecretary, Sarah Kemp.

“We discussed the next steps in growing our commercial cooperation including measures for getting more companies to invest in Kenya,” said Ms Juma via a tweet.

On Monday, Ms Juma and her team visited the Pentagon in Arlington Virginia where they were received by Mr. David Trachtenberg, Deputy Undersecretary for Policy. She later held a meeting with the policy team from MOD.

On Wednesday, the delegation will attend a key economic forum in the US capital.

 

 

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Africa

Kenyan business community lauds President Kenyatta for lifting the lockdown

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BY OLIVIA MUNGWANA

The government has lifted the lockdown imposed earlier on major cities following the eruption of the Covid 19 pandemic. The announcement by President Uhuru Kenyatta on 6th July 2020 came just three days after Optiven Group CEO George Wachiuri called on the government to lift the lockdown. Wachiuri who was speaking in Kiambu County said this was imperative if the economy was to grow.

He added that, “while we support every effort to keep our people in good health, we have seen a large number sinking in to depression for lack of jobs and basic needs. The number of families seeking intervention for daily upkeep through the Optiven Foundation has grown tremendously in the last three months.

Wachiuri who is the chairman of the Optiven Foundation was referring to beneficiaries of the Spreading Hope campaign that was launched at the onset of the eruption of Covid 19. To date the Optiven Foundation has supported over 200 families under the campaign with beneficiaries domiciled in Kajiado, Machakos, Nairobi and Nyeri among others.

The eruption of Covid 19 pandemic has contributed to a rundown of the economy, affecting majority of sectors including health, manufacturing, education and many others.

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With the pandemic came rising cases of infection and other unforeseen challenges that saw the government seeking partnership with stakeholders to mitigate the situation. Optiven Limited was among the first respondents with the company donating a quarter of a million to the national kitty. Wachiuri says, “as an investor in business in Kenya, Optiven felt this was our call to make a difference.

We believe in what the taskforce is doing to better the situation”. Through the award winning Foundation, the company has in 2020 continued to offer psycho-social support while adhering to the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization recommendations on engagement.

5 Key Facts On the Lifting of the Lockdown

  1. Cessation of movement in Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera lapses on 7th July 2020
  2. Curfew extended for 30 days
  3. Government to revert to lockdown if situation deteriorates or Covid 19 cases surge
  4. Vehicles traveling to and from areas that were previously restricted to be certified by the Ministry of Health
  5. On air travel, local travel to resume on 15th June 2020 while international travel to resume on 1st August 2020

Quote: “I urge all Kenyans to take personal responsibility and avoid unnecessary contact”.
Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya
6/7/2020

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Thoughts by

George Wachiuri: A Leading Entrepreneur, a Published Author, Philanthropist, Youth Empowerment Enthusiast, a Family man and CEO of Optiven Group

Contact Optiven Group: 0790 300 300
Email: admin@optiven.co.ke
Website: https://www.optiven.co.ke

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Africa

Feds: Nigerian scammer arrested in $50M scheme that targeted Chicago companies

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A man from Nigeria has been arrested after being accused of running a $50 million scheme that targeted Chicago companies.

Olalekan Jacob Ponle allegedly got an unnamed Chicago-based company to wire transfer more than $15 million. Another local company lost $2.3 million, but investigators believe the scheme is worth more than $50 million.

Sources pointed WGN Investigates to his Instagram feed which looks like a lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Here’s how prosecutors said the alleged scheme worked.

Either he or his co-conspirators were able to gain access to company’s email accounts through a phishing attack.

In one of the Chicago cases, they allegedly sent an email that appeared to be from the company’s Chief Accounting Officer to another employee ordering the a transfer.

The criminal complaint says “The fraudulent email was almost identical to a prior, legitimate email” right down to the name on the bank account. But the account “number” was different.

Federal agents said Ponle’s scheme spanned at least 9 months last year.

During that time, one of his Instagram posts read: “Money don’t make a man, a man makes money.”

Ponle is a Nigerian national and was taken into custody in the United Arab Emirates. UAE expelled him and federal agents brought Ponle to Chicago Thursday night for an initial court appearance Friday morning.

READ ALSO:   Ruto’s office loses its shine, glamour

A detention hearing is schedule for late next week.

By WGN

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Africa

Kenya ‘raring to go’ on free trade deal with US, Uhuru says

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Kenya’s negotiations with the US on an unprecedented two-way trade deal are on schedule to begin on July 7 despite difficulties posed by the coro-navirus pandemic, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Friday.

“Our team is raring to go,” he assured an online forum sponsored by the Washington-based Corporate Council on Africa.Kenya is aiming to create “sustainable jobs for our people” through what would be the first bilateral free-trade agreement between a sub-Saharan country and the nation with the world’s biggest economy, the President added.

The US also has much to gain from concluding such an arrangement, Mr Kenyatta suggested.Kenya is part of a continent that “requires everything from toothbrushes to machine tooling,” he said.

Mr Kenyatta also sought to allay concerns that a bilateral deal with the US could undermine the African Con-tinental Free Trade Area that is due to be implemented at the start of 2021.The Africa-wide initiative is “very important to us,” the President said, noting that Kenya has worked hard to ensure its success.

He suggested that a Kenya-US bilateral pact can complement the continental trade agreement and could serve as a model to be replicated by other individual countries.

“If we are successful in these negotiations, Kenya can act as a lead or guide,” the President said. “We will be the guinea pig so that many other African countries can follow suit.”

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But Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo, who also spoke at Friday’s forum, said the US has paid more attention to the possibility of a bilateral deal with Kenya than to the multilateral Africa trade agreement that will soon come into force.

While hailing the significance of a US-Kenya trade deal, Mr Akufo-Addo lamented that “the emphasis of America on exploring opportunities on the continent has not been quite as intense as some of us would have wished.”

Florizelle Liser, chief executive of the Corporate Council on Africa, said in an interview following the forum that the US has in fact worked to facilitate the Africa-wide trade agreement.A bilateral deal with Kenya is not an impediment to Africa’s efforts to forge a multilateral free-trade grouping, she added. The US side “understands that Kenya is part of the EAC,” Ms Liser said.

“They’re already looking at ways they can pull in other East African countries.”It could take as long as two years to conclude a Kenya-US trade deal, she added.

President Kenyatta noted in his remarks to the forum that Kenya was especially keen to start bilateral negoti-ations with the US because the existing multilateral preferential trade package known as Agoa is due to expire in 2025.

READ ALSO:   Ruto’s office loses its shine, glamour

But President Akufo-Addo is not prepared to acquiesce to that projected termination date for Agoa. African countries that have benefited from Agoa should “look at the possibility of extending it,” he said.

Ms Liser, whose 27-year-old association includes most US companies operating in Africa, pointed out that it is up to the US Congress to decide whether Agoa’s scheduled expiration in five years will actually come to pass.The still-spreading pandemic is in-tensifying Africa’s need for increased trade and investment, the Kenyan and Ghanaian heads of state agreed.

Kenya managed to save many lives through swift implementation of virus-containment measures, Mr Kenyatta noted.

But, he acknowledged, those moves led to a sharp economic contraction and widespread loss of livelihoods.President Akufo-Addo pointed out that Ghana has recorded one of the lowest virus-related death rates in the world.His country has counted 15,473 cases of coronavirus, resulting in 95 deaths.Kenya has reported only about one-third as many cases but has seen 135 lives lost to the pandemic.

At the same time, Kenya Airways (KQ), grounded for the past three months by the coronavirus pandemic, will resume domestic flights in “the next couple of days,” President Kenyatta said.

The return to in-country service will coincide with the lifting of Kenya’s lockdown on travel between counties, Mr Kenyatta noted.The government will soon set a date for KQ to resume flying internationally, the President added.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Is Matiang'i the unofficial Prime Minister? Kenyans read 2022 succession politics in Uhuru move

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure we are back in the skies,” Mr Kenyatta said.“We’re eager to open up, but we have to make sure we all stay safe.”

The President’s announcement came on the same day that KQ chief executive Allan Kilavuka revealed that the airline has lost an estimated $100 million so far this year due to the pandemic and related lockdowns.Losses could approach $500 million by the end of 2020, Mr Kilavuka added.KQ had been struggling financially long before the coronavirus emerged.

It lost about $122 million in 2019, compared to $71 million the previous year.

By Sunday Nation.

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