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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

EU stands with Kenya at this difficult time

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DIGITAL 27 APR 2020

The European Union’s decision to support Kenya with EUR 300 million (Sh35 billion) is Europe’s statement of friendship and partnership in these difficult global times. We are now starting to allocate these funds to specific measures. They are part of an overall Sh1.75 trillion (EUR 15 billion) package that the EU mobilised on April 6 to help its partners in developing countries face a virus that affects us all.

This is only the start because the EU and its member states will be providing additional support to Kenya in the coming weeks and months.The EU has been speeding up its approval procedures to start delivering on the full package of support. It provided the first tranche of humanitarian aid at the beginning of this month.

Last Friday, together with our ‘Team Europe’ colleagues from Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, we mobilized Sh211 million towards water sanitation, provision and awareness-raising, thus fighting Covid-19 across hotspots in 25 counties.

These are mainly under-resourced areas, which also face water scarcities. The Kenyan government is providing an additional Sh200 million. A further Sh1.1 billion of EU support in this domain has gone to supporting women and vulnerable households, shielding them from the financial impact of measures to contain Covid-19.

The EU is also increasing its support to Kenya, to enhance access to agricultural inputs; seeds and saplings, in order to ensure that Kenyans have access to food and hygiene standards in markets and storage facilities are met. In parallel, efforts are being made to keep the borders open so that trade can flow between Kenya and its neighbouring countries, while keeping the virus out. Sh1.1 billion will be disbursed in these sectors.

The EU has been working with the Kenyan Ministry of East African Community, Trademark East Africa, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in this area, drawing on the EU’s common market experience and its own recent cross-border challenges with Covid-19. As the Kenyan Judiciary is searching and finding innovative ways to maintain its essential workflow, the ongoing EU PLEAD program is facilitating the Judiciary’s use of new tools such as video conferencing and e-filing.

Equally, we are supporting the distribution of protective equipment to frontline workers and in prisons.

We will also be providing some Sh25 billion in direct support for the National Covid-19 Emergency Response Plan, either through the National Treasury or the Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund to tackle both the health and socio-economic challenges.

Finally, we are working with the European Investment Bank, the EU Bank, to both increase and facilitate access to affordable credit for SMEs at Sh23.2 billion to help them cope with this difficult period.Support, however, does not only come in monetary form. Our staff have been in close touch on economic and business matters with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and other organisations giving advice and information when requested.

In this respect, we applaud the enormous success of the local production of protective gear and other necessary materials in this fight. Wherever possible and helpful, we are sharing knowledge gathered in Europe in this field, and stand ready to lend a helping hand where appropriate.Kenya AirwaysSince the EU is Kenya’s largest export market for horticultural goods, and the Netherlands is the European hub for these goods, the EU has actively worked with organisations like the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya and the Kenya Flower Council to ensure as much Kenyan produce and flowers leave the country to reach consumers across the EU and beyond.

This will help maintain access for Kenyan producers to vital European markets. Thanks to these combined efforts, we saw available cargo capacity increase last week and Kenya Airways engaged in its first dedicated cargo flight to Europe since the onset of the crisis, helping to protect a significant segment of Kenya’s agricultural and horticultural workers’ jobs.

Unfortunately, even after the addition of three more weekly freight flights to the Netherlands, the available capacity is still insufficient, so we pledge to continue our full support to increase the export volume.

We cannot afford to rest on our laurels. We must continue to work together if we are all to emerge from this stronger. The people of Europe, for their part, have shown their commitment to the people of Kenya in these times of crisis. I can assure you that we will continue to do so.

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