The European Union’s €300 million support to Kenya is Europe’s statement of friendship and partnership in these difficult times. This is part of an overall Sh1.75 trillion (€15 billion) package that the EU mobilised on April 6 to help its partners in developing countries to face a virus that affects us all.
And 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 is speeding up its approval procedures to deliver on the full package. It has already 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 mobilised Sh211 million towards water sanitation, provision and awareness raising, thus fighting Covid-19 across hotspots in 25 counties. These are mainly under-resourced areas that also face water scarcity.
The Government of Kenya 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 the coronavirus.
The EU is also increasing its support to the government to enhance access to agricultural inputs such as seeds and saplings to ensure that Kenyans have access to food and hygiene standards in markets and storage facilities are met.
Simultaneous 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. Some Sh1.1 billion will be disbursed in these sectors.
The EU has been working with the Ministry of the East African Community, TradeMark East Africa and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) in this area, drawing on Europe’s common market experience and its own recent cross-border challenges with Covid-19.
Amid the Judiciary’s search for innovative ways to maintain its essential workflow, the ongoing EU Plead programme is facilitating its use of new tools, such as video conferencing and e-filing. We are also supporting the distribution of protective equipment to frontline workers and prisons.
We will also be providing 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 socioeconomic challenges.
Finally, we are working with the European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU bank, to both increase and facilitate access to affordable credit for small and micro enterprises, at Sh23.2 billion, to help them to cope with the hard times.
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 Industry and Trade, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and other Kenyan organisations, giving advice and information when requested.
In this respect, we applaud the enormous success of the local production of protective gear and other materials necessary in the war against the pandemic. Wherever possible, and it is helpful, we share the knowledge gathered in Europe in this field and stand ready to lend a helping hand where appropriate.
Since the EU is Kenya’s largest export market for horticultural goods, and the Netherlands is the European hub for these goods, the union has actively worked with organisations like the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya and the Kenya Flower Council to ensure as much Kenyan produce, including flowers, reach consumers across the EU and beyond. This will help Kenyan producers to maintain their access 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 local agricultural and horticultural workers in 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 all continue to work together if we are 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.
Mr Mordue is the EU ambassador to Kenya; @EUMordue, @EUinKenya.