Under-Secretary of state Elina Kalkku visited Kenya between 6.–8.3.2017 with a 50 person delegation of Finnish companies and organizations headed to Nairobi Innovation Week. The delegation represented a wide range of Finnish expertise, especially in the ICT, health, startup and education sectors. The visit also marked the beginning of the Finland 100-year independence anniversary celebrations in Kenya with six days of events.
The visit took place during the Nairobi Innovation Week, where Finland was a visible core partner. The under-secretary of state opened the Innovation Week side-event “Doing Business with Finland” seminar together with Kenya’s principal secretary for ICT and Innovation, Eng. Victor Kyalo.
The seminar was succesful in its goal of information exchange and promoting business links between private and public actors of both countries.
The Embassy of Finland and Unicef organized another innovation week side-event the next day, Creating Sustainable Solutions through Partnership and Innovation in East Africa, a new kind of event which brought together private actors and development partners. The event was a continuation of the Global Innovations for Children and Youth Summit held in Helsinki in 2015. The event was built around workshops and discussions through which private and public actors tried to find new solutions to reach sustainable development goals. The event was particularly focused on identifying and solving development issues as they related for children and youth.
The event fostered ”shared value” thinking and new practices for solving problems together. Unicef is preparing to apply the model directly to country-level problems in East Africa. Finland supports innovative solutions in other places as well, and is seeking to continue acting in partnership with Unicef and other organizations. The event led to many lessons learned for both Unicef and Finland
Kalkku highlighted Finland’s example of rising from a poor country to one of the world’s most innovative places, with its long history of social innovations that improve the condition of children, such as education, the maternity package, free school food and day care.
CodeBus Africa, organized together by Finnish Embassies in sub-Saharan Africa, arrived in Kenya during the under-secretary’s visit. The Finland 100-years project organizes creative coding workshops for African girls and boys, which teach them the basics of coding through music. It is particularly focused on exposing African girls to technology.
Finland 100 years celebrations in Kenya were opened by Kalkku at a reception in the ambassador’s residence, where she thanked the trainers that came from Aalto university as well as those from our local partner, Tunapanda Institute.
Several high-level meetings advanced diplomatic relations between Finland and Kenya, as well as Finnish contacts on a political level and with projects in Kenya.
Under-secretary of state Kalkku met principal secretary Monica Juma from the Kenyan Ministry for Foreign affairs as well as ambassador Tom Amolo, strengthening bilateral ties.
In her meeting with principal secretary Julius Korir of the ministry of industry, trade and cooperatives, the under-secretary discussed the economic situation of Kenya, as well as progress toward development goals and cooperation in development and other fields. They agreed that improving trade links requires activity from both sides, and that innovation increases possibilities for bilateral cooperation. The Kenyan hosts highlighted that Kenya’s strong economic growth is creating demand and opportunities for Finnish business in the country. During the Innovation Week many Finnish and Kenyan businesses networked and started planning partnerships.
Kalkku introduced Finland’s new country strategy for Kenya to the ministry as well as stakeholders. Present were the chairman of Water Services Trust Fund Musikari Kombo and the CEO of the organization Ismail Shaiye. The forestry sector was represented by the Kenya Forest Service CEO Elijah Mugo.
A field trip familiarized the under-secretary with Finnish development cooperation in the water sector as well with Uraia Trust Fund in Thika, which is preparing for the upcoming elections. Uraia’s goal is to develop democracy and social justice and entrench constitutionalism. Under-secretary of state Kalkku reaffirmed Finland’s support for the focus areas of the trust, which are civic education, participation and strengthening civil society. The trust is active in most of Kenya’s counties, and educates voters on their rights and responsibilities. The trust gives practical advice, such as how to register as a voter and how to report possible police corruption.
Together with Sweden, Finland hosted the launch of UN Environment’s MOPAN (Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network) assessment. UN Environment’s results were good. MOPAN is a network of 17 donor countries to jointly assess the performance of multilateral organizations. UN Environment’s Head Erik Solheim expressed his pride in the results of the assessment and affirmed the need to continue developing the organization. At the launch Kalkku thanked the environmental programme for its good results, and expressed her wish for the continuation of the mainstreaming of gender throughout the organization.
UNHCR:s representative briefed the Finns on the refugee situation in Kenya, and the discussion surrounding the closing of the Dadaab refugee camp, which can also be reflected on Europe.