President Uhuru Kenyatta will leave on Tuesday for a three-day State visit to the Carribean nation of Cuba aimed at bolstering bilateral relations, and especially deepening collaboration and cooperation in health, sports, culture, blue economy and trade.
Cuba has a special historical relationship with Kenya and Africa as a whole. Cuba’s relationship with African liberation movements began as early as the 1960s and the Cuban revolution was a great inspiration particularly during the struggle against colonialism and apartheid.
Cuba established an Embassy in Nairobi in 2001, while Kenya first accredited its mission in Ottawa to Cuba, and then established its resident mission in Havana in September 2016.
President Kenyatta’s visit will seek to strengthen these relations and expand areas of cooperation for mutual benefit.
Cooperation in Health
Cuba has a well-developed health sector which has achieved great milestones such as the discovery of vaccines against lung cancer and the eradication of malaria. Cuba is also home to a thriving pharmaceutical sector.
Mid last year, Kenya and Cuba signed a MoU on Health Cooperation. There is a great opportunity, during the President’s visit, for the two nations to expand the MoU implementation for the achievement of universal healthcare, an important deliverable in President Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda.
Cuba is interested in registering and selling its pharmaceutical products in the Kenyan market and is also keen to cooperate in vector control in Kenya. President Kenyatta will encourage Cuba to set up a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Kenya to serve the East and Central Africa regional market.
The President will explore how to build Kenyan capacity, increase the number of medical specialists in orthopedic surgery, oncology, neurology, and trauma management; and collaborate in research on cancer and diabetes drugs, and eradication of malaria.
Kenya will also seek cooperation in veterinary vaccines.
Affordable healthcare for all is one of the deliverables in President Kenyatta’s second term of office under the Big Four agenda.
Cooperation in Sports and Culture
Cuba has one of the best-established sports medicine sectors in the world and Kenya will seek the Caribbean nation’s support in building capacity in this area, enhancing sports development.
A knowledge share and capacity training exchanges in sport will target Cuba offering Kenya training in boxing, volleyball, track and field events; the reverse order will be Kenya offering Cuban athletes and coaches opportunities to train at High-Altitude training facilities in Kenya.
On the multilateral front, President Kenyatta is expected support Cuba in its campaign for a complete removal of financial and economic for embargo imposed by US. Meantime, the President will seek support for Kenya’s candidature for the non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council for the period 2021-2022.
Visit by US Secretary of State Tillerson
In regard to the visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a number of you have asked whether President Uhuru Kenyatta spoke to the Secretary about recent developments in the US ivory space.
I would like to confirm that the President and the Secretary discussed the matter.
President Kenyatta recalled that the United States was a major partner in assisting Kenya to preserve its wildlife heritage, and the US had especially shown remarkable leadership in this area.
Secretary Tillerson was sympathetic to President Kenyatta’s views.