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Ladies and gentlemen, asalamu aleikum.

As we mark the 57th Kenya's Independence Day, we commemorate the struggle and sacrifice of our fore fathers to free Kenya from the shackles of oppression. We also remember the support of our friends who played a key role in Kenya's endeavour to take the reins of state and determine its destiny. Pakistan which became an independent state in 1947, was at the fore front for the clamour for independence of countries which were still under colonial oppression. Indeed, the efforts of Pakistan and other newly independent states in organizing the Bundang conference in 1955, which among things, called for independence of countries still under colonialism, accelerated the end of colonialization and therefore we remain eternally grateful for your efforts.

At independence, Kenya identified three ills that needed to be eradicated; poverty, illiteracy, and disease. While a lot has been achieved, a lot remains to be done. In this regard, the government is implementing the big four agenda which is focused on manufacturing, health, housing and food security. We believe investments in these sectors will have a direct impact on the improvement of the lives of our people. We note that Pakistan has a well-developed textile and apparel, pharmaceutical and surgical instruments, and light engineering and electronic sectors which can play a big role in the big 4 agenda. We therefore call upon the private sector in Pakistan to take advantage of investment opportunities in Kenya in these sectors.

We mark this year's anniversary at a very difficult time not only for Kenya, but for all humanity. COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives and economies all over the world in a manner which is unimaginable in the 21st century. As Kenya begins its tenure at the UNSC in January 2021, we hope we can enhance cooperation and collaboration with all member states not only in this critical area, but also other pressing challenges like climate change. We hope the vaccines which are beginning to be rolled out will be fairly distributed to all parts of the world, as we will only be safe when everyone is protected.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Kenya and Pakistan, our bonds of friendship have grown in leaps and bounds. Kenya and Pakistan not only boast of robust people to people relations, but are also great trade partners. The two-way trade between our two countries in 2019 amounted to about USD 700 million, with immense potential for further growth. The diversity of our nations is an opportunity to contribute to each other's development, by taking advantage of the comparative advantages existing in the two countries.

Kenya notes with satisfaction, the successful hosting of Pak Africa Trade Development Conference in Nairobi early this year. The conference marked Pakistan's desire to deepen its engagement not only with Kenya, but also with Africa. Kenya as a gateway to East and Central Africa provides an excellent opportunity in this endeavour. We note that Kenya is expanding its infrastructural development with phase one and phase two of the Standard Gauge Railway having been completed. This has expedited the evacuation of cargo from the port of Mombasa to the hinterland, thereby reducing delays in the clearance of goods. Furthermore, the country continues to improve the investment environment by reducing barriers to investment and trade. We hope these initiatives can enhance and deepen trade and investment between our two countries.

Long Live Kenya, Pakistan relations.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020