Kenya is honored to host the 14th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which was officially opened yesterday by the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC) in Nairobi.
Also in attendance were the outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Amina Mohamed.
The six-day conference has brought together global leaders to discuss a raft of issues, including global economic growth, equality and inclusion in trade and strong partnership.
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Speaking at the opening ceremony yesterday, UNCTAD’s Secretary-General Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi said this year’s theme is “From Decisions to Actions.”
The conference, which is expected to end on 22 July, is held every four years since 1964 and involves high-level round tables, a World Investment Forum, ministerial debates, a Global Commodities Forum, a Youth Forum and a Civil Society Forum, among other important deliberations.
It is the second time that Kenya is privileged to host the UNCTAD session having played host to the fourth session in 1976.
Kicking off the conference on Sunday 17 July, President Kenyatta called on the more than 7,000 delegates attending the session to discuss and find solutions to issues affecting trade relations between the developed and least developed nations.
“UNCTAD 14 is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to exchange views on how these milestones have been reached,” he noted.
Developing Countries Still Vulnerable
Addressing delegates attending the UNCTAD conference, Ban Ki Moon noted that although a lot has been achieved since the first conference in 1964, developing countries are still vulnerable to volatile commodity markets.
The UN chief also identified global market slowdown and slump in commodity prices as key areas that continue to hamper success in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).
“The successful actions we will need over the next 15 years – especially in the area of trade, investment, technology and finance – require that we tap the full potential of all actors, promote innovation and correct unsustainable trends,” Ban Ki Moon said.
How Will Kenya Benefit?
Apart from drawing revenue through hospitality, transport and tourism, Kenya stands to benefit from the week-long UNCTAD conference in many other ways.
Speaking to Business Daily on Friday, Dr. Kituyi announced that a major international non-governmental organization is expected to announce the relocation of its global headquarters to Nairobi in recognition of Nairobi’s ecosystem as a center for international activity.
Through the World Invest Forum, UNCTAD will bring together fund managers, investors, people looking for partnerships, people looking to buy enterprises, and mergers and acquisitions, Dr. Kituyi noted.
“In the middle of the conference there will be a program running as Empretec, which is a capacity building organization for disadvantaged people in enterprise,” he added.
The conference is also expected to cause traffic snarl-up in some parts of Nairobi, with the Kenyan government having already closed several roads leading to the KICC where the conference is taking place.
Security is also tight within the city.