Kenya, Congo-Brazzaville foster stronger ties, ease travel restrictions

In a significant move towards strengthening bilateral relations, Kenya and Congo-Brazzaville have taken decisive steps to enhance cooperation and facilitate seamless movement between their borders. During a state visit to Congo-Brazzaville, Kenyan President William Ruto announced the removal of visa restrictions, signaling a new era of openness and collaboration between the two nations.

President Ruto, warmly welcomed by his Congolese counterpart Denis Sassou Nguesso, delivered a powerful message on the pressing issues faced by Africa. Emphasizing the continent’s vulnerability to climate change, President Ruto voiced his concern over the disproportionate impact Africa endures despite contributing only 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. He stressed the urgent need for concerted efforts to mitigate climate change’s adverse effects on Africa’s communities and natural resources.

Turning his attention to economic challenges, President Ruto expressed shock at the burden of debt payments weighing heavily on low-income African countries. These countries currently allocate a staggering 24% of their GDP to servicing debts, hindering their economic growth and stifling opportunities for development. In this context, President Ruto lauded the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as a transformative initiative that would break down barriers and bolster intra-African trade. He underscored the significance of increasing trade, which presently stands at a mere 17% within Africa, compared to the European Union’s robust 70%.

Paving the way for increased bilateral trade and cooperation, President Ruto announced the abolition of visa requirements for Congolese nationals entering Kenya. This landmark decision aims to facilitate the movement of people and goods, encouraging stronger economic ties and fostering cultural exchange between the two nations. In addition to this historic step, a series of agreements were signed, covering a wide range of sectors. These agreements spanned agriculture, livestock, environment, tourism, mining, geology, diplomatic training, and cooperative promotion, reflecting the breadth of collaboration envisioned by both countries.

President Ruto expressed his aspiration to revive Kenya Airways’ service between Nairobi and Brazzaville, enhancing connectivity and creating new avenues for trade and tourism. The reinstatement of this air route holds great potential for bolstering economic and people-to-people exchanges.

The state visit reached its climax as President Ruto and President Nguesso signed the agreements in the grandeur of the People’s Palace banquet hall. Subsequently, President Ruto proceeded to his stronghold in Oyo, a city located 400 kilometers north of Brazzaville, concluding the visit on a high note.

The removal of visa restrictions and the signing of multiple cooperation agreements between Kenya and Congo-Brazzaville mark a significant milestone in their bilateral relations. These measures demonstrate their shared commitment to deepening ties, expanding trade opportunities, and fostering a prosperous future for their nations. Such endeavors embody the spirit of unity and integration championed by the African Union, setting a positive precedent for collaboration across the continent.

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