Sirleaf thanks Kenya for helping Liberia fight Ebola
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has thanked Kenya for supporting her country to eradicate Ebola.
She said Kenya proved to be a true friend to Liberia when it sent medical staff to assist in the fight against the killer virus.
“You will always know your genuine friends when passing through tough times. Kenya stood with us when we were confronted by Ebola. We will always remain indebted to you,” she said.
President Sirleaf was speaking on Friday at State House, Nairobi, when she led her delegation at a bilateral meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta and senior Kenya Government officials at the start of her State Visit in the country.
Kenya sent 170 volunteer health workers to Liberia and Sierra Leone last January to help combat Ebola. The team played an important role in the efforts that contained the virus, culminating in the World Health Organisation’s declaration that Liberia was Ebola-free on May 9.
President Kenyatta said the State Visit by the Liberian leader provided an opportunity to rejuvenate the enormous potential between the two countries, built on a foundation of common values of mutual cooperation and interests.
He noted that the level of engagement between Kenya and Liberia, particularly in trade, has been relatively low but holds much promise.
To forge closer, President Kenyatta and President Sirleaf signed an agreement for the establishment of a Joint Commission for Cooperation and the Memorandum of Understanding on Political Consultations.
President Kenyatta welcomed the signing, saying the agreement will provide the necessary legal and political framework essential for enhancing mutually beneficial commercial, cultural and diplomatic exchanges.
“It is up to us and our delegations to move with speed, identify potential sectors for cooperation and develop strong and sustainable frameworks in order to accrue tangible benefits for our citizens,” President Kenyatta said.
The two Presidents also signed a Bilateral Air Services Agreement to revitalise the air transport connectivity between the two countries.
The Kenyan leader singled out agriculture as one area where Kenya could share its experience with Liberia.
He said: “We can leverage our vast knowledge particularly in the livestock sub-sector to provide capacity building, share best practices in disease and pest control and cooperate in research and technology transfer.”
President Kenyatta said Liberia – which is home to the second largest maritime registry in the world – has a wealth of experience in maritime affairs that Kenya could benefit from.
To boost intra-Africa trade, President Kenyatta emphasised the need for increased air transport connectivity within Africa and expressed satisfaction that the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Air Services between Kenya and Liberia has seen significant improvement in air transport.
“Kenya Airways now flies from Nairobi to Monrovia, easing the movement of people, goods and services between our two countries,” he said.
President Kenyatta commended Liberia for joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the main decision-making body in the global trade system. He said Kenya looked forward to working closely with Liberia and other African countries within WTO to ensure that the needs of the continent are addressed.
President Sirleaf said she was also in Kenya to attend the WTO meeting and make her country’s voice heard at the world body.
She agreed that time was ripe for Kenya and Liberia to explore new areas of engagement for the benefit of their citizens.
She cited the great strides Kenya has made in the education sector, saying that was one area of cooperation her country was keen to develop.
“Kenya has excelled in providing quality education to its young people. That is one area Liberia is looking forward to borrow a leaf from Kenya,” President Sirleaf said.
On the fight against terrorism, President Kenyatta called for concerted and sustained efforts by the international community to ensure that agents of terror are effectively eliminated. He said Kenya will continue to explore new and innovative ideas to purge the threat.
Later, President Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta hosted a luncheon in honour of the visiting Liberian Head of State at State House, Nairobi.