Home | News    Wednesday 9 February 2005

Kenya closer to sealing oil deals in Saudi Arabia, Sudan.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 9, 2005 (PANA) - Kenya is pursuing separate bilateral agreements with Saudi Arabia and the Sudan to enable it access cheaper crude oil in a move aimed at helping the country achieve its desired economic growth focus, a senior government official has said.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere said on Tuesday that the country has embarked on a series of diplomatic outreach programmes that will culminate in the formation of a Joint Commission between Kenya and Saudi authorities.

"We are in the process of forming a Joint Commission. Officials from both sides are already discussing the issue, and we are looking at different ways through which we can cooperate," Mwakwere told PANA on arrival from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The minister represented President Mwai Kibaki at a Saudi anti-terrorism summit during which 44 nations met to plan new counter-terrorism strategies and investigate the link between drug trafficking and global terrorism.

Kibaki indicated last October that Kenya would pursue a direct oil contract with Saudi to help cushion its investors and the local economy from the adverse effects of wildcat inflation sparked off by the steep rise in international oil prices.

He said the rise in international oil prices was likely to impact negatively on the country’s dream of achieve "rapid economic transformation" and reiterated that the signing of an oil contract would be the way out.

"We have taken note of the very high international oil prices. I can assure you that we have been talking to the Saudi authorities but the talks are broad-based," Mwakwere said.

Kenya, which also sits in the recently established southern Sudan post conflict reconstruction sub-committee of the African Union, also says it will soon hold a joint commission meeting with the Khartoum authorities to fast-track the new oil deals.

Kenya is "very serious" about importing oil from Sudan now that there is peace in the south. This is on the top of our agenda, the papers are ready but we are still holding briefly to allow the southern Sudan and Khartoum to finish the setting up of the unity government, Mwakwere said.

Kenya and Sudan last held their joint commission meeting in Nairobi in 2003 during which an economic cooperation pact was signed, focusing mainly on the technical support of Kenya’s livestock sector revival, rice farming and the collapsed irrigation sectors.