Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau has said there are great unexploited trade opportunities between Kenya and Somalia.
He cited tourism, which he said remains greatly unexploited, noting that currently Kenya receives 32,268 tourists from Somalia annually.
He said the number can be tripled if the visa protocols are enforced and issued on arrival.
Macharia said Somalia is on the cusp of a turnaround that could position it as an important country for business, trade and cooperation and could soon be a major source of tourist and hotel revenue for Kenya.
He said countries like Uganda, Djobouti, Ethiopia and Turkey have seen the potential of Somalia and have direct flights to Mogadishu, something Kenya Airways should consider.
Mcahraia was in Mogadishu to visit the Kenyan Embassy and assess its situation.
“I have traveled to Somalia with a small delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that included the Director of Human Resources and Management and other specialists to look at the situation of our diplomatic team in Somalia,” Kamau said in a statement on Sunday.
He said about 35,000 Kenyans presently live in Somalia while some half a million Somalians also reside in the Kenyan refugee camps with about 1.5 million integrated over time.
The integration ration of Somalians to indigenous Kenyans remains among the highest in Kenya, the said the PS.
During his tour, Macharia looked at the living conditions in Mogadishu and discussed strategic and security matters that are of concern to Kenya’s mission on operations in Somalia.
“While here I’ve also had the opportunity to discuss other important matters with the PS and Minister of Foreign Affairs and the new Minister of Commerce that have touched on trade and cooperation between our two countries,” he said.
He also engaged a number of international partners including the ambassadors of the European Union, the UK and the US.
The PS also held talks with the political and military leadership of African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) based in Mogadishu and explored cooperation and opportunities between Somalia and Kenya.
“The promise of trade and business exchanges between the two peoples of Kenya and Somalia is phenomenal and it could be transformational for both economies and societies,” said Kamau.
He said the significant political and security challenges between Kenya and Somalia in the last decade should not bar what would be the enormous benefits from cooperation and business in the two countries.
The PS said so far, Kenya has offered Somalia 500 plus scholarships in various areas of study and skills development to help the Somali state build capacity and skills for development.
Somalia has in turn offered many young Kenyans opportunities for work in Mogadishu and other places in the country in areas of education, the hotel industry, as well as the construction industry.