Kenya to restart khat exports to Somalia after two years
Somalia has agreed to lift a ban on air cargo of khat from Kenya that had been in place for more than two years, Kenya’s agriculture minister announced on Friday.
The announcement, which comes a day after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta visited Mogadishu for the inauguration of new Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, marks an easing of relations between the two countries, which were rocky under former President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, says Farmajo.
In this tense context, Mogadishu had never lifted the ban on the air transport of miraa – the other name for khat – from Kenya, imposed in March 2020 because of the coronavirus.
Kenyan Agriculture Minister Peter Munya announced on Friday that the two countries have reached trade agreements, one of which will allow Kenya to resume exports of miraa, a plant popular in Somalia where it is chewed for its properties. stimulants and appetite suppressants, while Somalia will sell fish and other products to its neighbour.
These agreements will be signed “within two weeks”, he said.
The ban has hit central Kenya hard, where 50 tons of miraa worth 6 million shillings ($50,000) were being shipped to Somalia every day, according to Kimathi Munjuri, secretary general of one of the main miraa producer associations.
Khat is classified as a drug in several European countries.
Kenya and Somalia, which share a 700 kilometer border and are theoretically allies in the fight against Al-Shabaab Islamists, have a tumultuous relationship.
Somalia has regularly accused Kenya of interference, while Kenya has accused Mogadishu of looking for a scapegoat for its internal problems.
Somalia severed diplomatic relations with Kenya in December 2020, when Uhuru Kenyatta hosted the president of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, which is not recognized by the international community and which Mogadishu considers an integral part of Somalia.
They were reinstated in August 2021.
The two countries are also arguing over the delimitation of their maritime border in the Indian Ocean. In October, the International Court of Justice, the main judicial body of the UN, ruled in favor of Somalia, granting it a vast area of 100,000 km2 rich in fish and potentially in hydrocarbons.
Kenya’s exports to Somalia amount to 13 billion shillings (more than $110 million), or 5% of its total exports to African countries in 2021, according to government data released in May.
Imports from Somalia were worth 106 million shillings ($905,000) last year, the figures show.