By TOM MALITI
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Brazil, the world's leading ethanol exporter, will help Kenya produce biodiesel and improve its agriculture sector, the two nations' leaders said Tuesday.
Kenya is an investment hub that Brazilian companies and entrepreneurs can use to seek business opportunities in the wider East African Community, a five-nation economic bloc of more than 125 million people, Brazil's President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva said at a news conference with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.
Silva's visit is the first by a Brazilian president to the East African nation. Silva and Kibaki did not give more details about how Brazil will help Kenya develop biodiesel or improve its agriculture. For several years, however, a growing number of Kenyan farmers have been increasing the amount of land they dedicate to plants known to be good sources of biofuel. The production of such fuel remains small scale in Kenya.
"Kenya is especially keen on exploiting Brazilian advances in the area of biodiesel technology. Brazil is a world leader in this field and Kenya stands to gain as we seek ways of becoming more efficient in our management of the energy sector," Kibaki said.
Later at a luncheon in his honor, Silva said trade between Kenya and Brazil has increased six-fold between 2002 and 2009.
"Now is the time for the challenge to diversify exports from Kenya to Brazil and to stimulate Brazilian investments in Kenya. So that is why I came, followed by a Brazilian business delegation that are interested in establishing partnerships and identifying business opportunities," Silva said.
He said Brazilian construction companies would like to bid to build roads, ports and hydro-electric power plants in Kenya. In recent years Kenya has invested in rehabilitating its dilapidated roads network and expanding it.
Earlier in the day, Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula and his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim, signed five agreements to act as a framework for future investments and assistance. The agreements include one that will allow Kenyan students join a university the Brazilian government will build in its northeastern state of Ceara to train 5,000 African and 5,000 Brazilian students in various fields.
Silva and a delegation of Brazilian Cabinet ministers, officials and businesspeople arrived in Kenya on Monday. They go to neighboring Tanzania later Tuesday and then to Zambia before ending their six-nation African tour in South Africa.
The Brazilian leader began his tour last week in Cape Verde, where he attended a meeting with the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States. He then visited Equatorial Guinea before arriving in Kenya.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.