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Switzerland, Kenya take their ties to new heights

Switzerland, Kenya take their ties to new heights

Kenya Airways will launch direct flights from Nairobi to Geneva and I will be on that inaugural flight. And although I have flown between Kenya and Switzerland many times over the four years that I have served as the ambassador of Switzerland to Kenya, this will be a uniquely satisfying trip for me.

This is because for the first time — and going forward — the Nairobi and the Geneva headquarters of the United Nations will be directly linked. Kenya and Switzerland will take their relationship literally to new heights!

This is truly good news for me as the ambassador of Switzerland to Kenya and as Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office at Nairobi. Over the last four years, I have been working tirelessly to strengthen our bilateral relations and to connect the UN headquarters in Geneva with the UN headquarters in Nairobi.

Switzerland was one of the first countries to recognise Kenya as a free and independent country. Since then, a lot has happened. The professional highlight of my stay in Kenya was the official visit of the President of the Swiss Confederation, Alain Berset, in June last year. The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, received him very warmly. Only Kenyans can be so generous and gracious hosts!

Both Presidents cemented our long-standing cooperation in the fight against corruption. Since that visit, Switzerland has offered to further increase its support to help Kenya fight this devastating cancer of grand corruption.

Another important result of the presidential visit was the announcement of the establishment of a Kenyan Embassy in Berne. A few weeks ago, the Kenyan government appointed its first Ambassador to Switzerland. This will be very beneficial to our bilateral relations. I am very much looking forward to seeing my Kenyan colleague embarking on his new mandate in Berne and working with him.

However, our relations are far more than government-to-government. We also have business-to-business links.

In November, a trade mission from Switzerland will visit Kenya. And here, I would like to emphasise that at this stage in its economic development, what Kenya needs even more than loans, is new investments.

As such, more business-to-business exchanges are good news for both our countries. Furthermore, the new KQ flight to Geneva will be an opportunity for our civil societies to connect and work together more strategically.

Nairobi is in many ways the “think tank city” of the African continent with many NGOs and universities. Kenyan human rights NGOs will need just a few hours to be in Geneva and participate in sessions of the Human Rights Council. The same is true when it comes to humanitarian issues, trade and health or peace promotion.