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Baiju Kantaria of Elgon Kenya 

For over a century, Kenya and the United Kingdom have enjoyed strong ties hinged on trust, enhanced cooperation and mutual benefit across key sectors among them trade, tourism, security, health and education.

The UK views Kenya as a strategic partner due to her wealth of agricultural materials, booming services sector and for being a gateway to other markets in the East African community.

It has therefore over the decades invested in growing Kenya to become the region economic powerhouse. Indeed UK remains one of the largest foreign investors in Kenya with a portfolio approximated at £2.7 billion. More than 200 British companies have set up shop in the Kenya opening up the country to increased employment opportunities and economic growth. 

Kenya on the other hand has found a key export market in the UK for its products among them tea, coffee, flowers and other horticultural produce. For millions of  farmers growing French beans, herbs and avocados, access to UK markets has not only given them the advantage of growing more markets beyond our borders but also created a farming revolution where more farmers are finding farming lucrative, which has ultimately created more jobs and household incomes. 

Indeed at the height of COVID-19 last year, when international trade was grinding to halt, due to international freight suspensions, Kenya and UK burnt the midnight oil in finding innovative ways of overcoming the disruptions.

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Kenya fresh produce was able to find its way into UK supermarkets thanks to the concerted efforts of the two governments and the private sector a highlight of which was the conversion of Kenya Airways passenger planes into cargo freighters ensuring uninterrupted supply of produce.

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This decision is attributed as one of the factors that has seen Kenya’s agriculture sector remain buoyant in the middle of a calamity.

In this context, the prevailing diplomatic tiff between Kenya and UK over travel bans occasioned by concerns over new COVID-19 variants shouldn’t be allowed to escalate any further. 

While in these very trying times nations are acting on their best interests to ensure the safety of their people, the success stories of collaboration that have defined our resilience in the last one year when the pandemic devastated the world and decimated livelihoods should inspire us to embrace unity of purpose.

It is encouraging to learn that the two trading partners have  formed  a joint emergency committee to address the spat and resolve the impasse within the shortest time possible.

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We are in very unfamiliar territories and there is no telling how the virus will evolve. But the resolve to cooperate will determine how we can outpace the virus’s devastating impacts.

Kenya and UK horticulture trade is still grappling with other unprecedented shocks chief among them climate change that has  taken a toll on millions of farmers and disrupted supply chains with devastating effects.  We shouldn’t lose focus of the huge task ahead in tackling these challenges that no one country can handle on their own.

In international relations, there has always been, and there will always be disagreements between nations, continents and neighbours; followed by mediation to resolve the issues at hand and move forward. We are better together. BY:Baiju Kantaria: Director at Elgon Kenya, KBC

Social media giants Twitter announced today that it is officially entering the African tech space and Accra will be its headquarters. 

For the Silicon Valley based company, Ghana was chosen ahead of other countries because it is seen: “as a champion for democracy, Ghana is a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate.”

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo hailed this move by saying: "The choice of Ghana as HQ for Twitter’s Africa operations is EXCELLENT news. Gov’t and Ghanaians welcome very much this announcement and the confidence reposed in our country."

Nana Addo added that: "this is the start of a beautiful partnership between Twitter and Ghana, which is critical for the dev’t of Ghana’s hugely important tech sector."

However, this exciting news seem to have caught the ire of some Nigerians who think the headquarters should be based in their country. 

Citing their population advantage and their thriving tech industry, it shouldn't have been a difficult decision in choosing Lagos or Abuja as the headquarters. Pulse Ghana

SaharaReporters learnt that the humanitarian workers have life insurance and the agencies would rather pay insurance claims to their families than save them from Boko Haram through ransom negotiations.

A top source added that the Nigerian government, which itself still has several highly priced abductees with Boko Haram, has asked the agencies to secure the release of their workers – although they are Nigerians.

One of them is Garba Idris, a staff member of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who was abducted on Saturday, January 2 along the Damaturu-Maiduguri Road, in Borno State.

The second humanitarian worker in captivity is yet to be identified.

The insurgents had attacked some commuters near Matari village between Minok to Jakana road on the said day before picking Idris.

The terrorists had also ambushed vehicles conveying commuters near Matari village between Minok to Jakana highway, and the Boko Haram fighters held Idris, aka Alooma, a Senior Protection Assistant with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, during the attack.

A source said the terrorists, clad in military uniform, had placed a roadblock with three Hilux pickup trucks and motorcycles.

“Witnesses said while searching the passengers, Idris attempted to throw away his Identity card but one of the insurgents sighted him. He was then asked to step down from the vehicle along with two others. The rest were allowed to continue the journey.

“The other two passengers were later released on the ground that they are very poor people and of no use”, the source had disclosed.

Unconfirmed reports stated that the terrorists also abducted scores of the passengers on that journey.

Speaking with SaharaReporters on Monday, a top UN official confirmed that two staff members had been with the Boko Haram insurgents but there is no payment of ransom and no negotiation, which are both in line with the standard rules of operation of the organisations.

He said, “They (the Boko Haram) typically don’t release aid workers without collecting ransom which only the government can pay as aid agencies on principle don’t. So they make a spectacle of it by executing and releasing the video.

“So that Damaturu-Maiduguri Road had been closed to all UN staff since November when the situation escalated but the two aid workers abducted were on personal travels when armed fighters stopped their vehicles and identified them during search.

“The government feels they are aid workers and the aid agencies should pay the ransom and not the government. Recall that the International Committee of the Red Cross helped the government to negotiate the Chibok girls’ release. But the government dropped the money.

“So when the ICRC staff members were abducted and the government was asked to step it, they told ICRC to use their connection to free their staff. ICRC didn’t pay and the woman was killed.”  By Sahara Reporters

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