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"KENYA WEEK IN PARIS” CELEBRATIONS HELD AT UNESCO HEADQUARTERS FROM 24TH – 28TH NOVEMBER 2014
Kenya joined UNESCO in 1964 as its 73rd Member State. Since 1964, UNESCO has supported various projects in Kenya that have worked towards building peace in the minds of men and women in the country through education, sciences, culture, communication and information. Kenya has also been a vibrant member of UNESCO. The year 2014 marks fifty years of Kenya and UNESCO cooperation. To mark this achievement, Kenya and UNESCO @ 50 celebrations were organized at the County, National and International levels in the months of September, October and November respectively.
The Kenya Week in Paris was characterized by an exhibition, cultural presentations from various communities of Kenya, a film presentation, side meetings on trade and investment and an official reception with Kenyan cuisine. The event was hosted by KNATCOM, (Kenya National Commission for UNESCO), the Kenya’s Permanent Delegation to UNESCO and the Embassy of Kenya in France. Export Promotion Council was a member of the Preparatory Committee and was further invited to the celebration in Paris, France, chiefly to conduct the side meetings on Trade and Investment.

The Objective
The main objective of the Kenya week in Paris was to enhance visibility of the Kenya-UNESCO collaboration and showcase Kenya’s achievement in UNESCO’s areas of competence for the last 50 years.  The exhibition showcased Kenya’s rich cultural and natural heritage and further promoted trade and tourism between Kenya and France. The week-long event was an opportunity to showcase the strong collaboration Kenya has had with UNESCO in the fields of Education, Culture, the Sciences as well as communication and information.
 
Participants
The Kenyan Delegation to the Kenya Week in Paris was led by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology who represented His Excellency the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya. Among other delegates were the Hon. Governor, Bungoma County; Members of the Senate Education Committee; Representatives of the National Assembly Budget and Education Committees; the Principal Secretary, State Department of Science & Technology; Deputy Governors of Marsabit, Kakamega and Tana River and their Chief County Officers in charge of Culture; Representatives from Office of the Deputy President; Education Advisor from the Office of the President; KNATCOM Board and Management; representatives from line ministries, Brand Kenya, Kenya Tourism Board, Export Promotion Council and about fifteen other Government institutions and five Counties which exhibited. Cultural performances were done by Bomas of Kenya whose dances exhibited the face of Kenya and complemented by Bungoma, Kakamega, Tana River and Marsabit Counties.

HIGHLIGHTS OF ACTIVITIES
A.    Opening ceremony
The celebrations were officially opened on 24th November 2014 by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Jacob T. Kaimenyi on behalf of H.E. the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya. The event was also graced by the UNESCO Deputy Director General, Mr. Getachew Engida, on behalf of UNESCO’s Director General; Kenya’s Ambassador to France H.E. Amb. Salma Ahmed; the Assistant Director General for Africa Ms. Leilla Ben Barka; and UNESCO Nairobi Office Director Mr. Mohamed Djelid. The highlight of the opening ceremony was the re-launch of the golden jubilee commemoration book and the official presentation of the same to UNESCO. Prof. Collete Suda presided over the closing ceremony on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary Prof. Kaimenyi. She observed that the celebrations were largely successful and thanked all participants.
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B.    Kenya House Presentation
At the exhibition area the visitors were hosted to sample some of the Kenyan finished food products like the coffee, nuts and the various fruit juices made and manufactured in Kenya. While sampling the products the visitors were informed of the initiatives the Government was making to promote Kenya as a source of quality products and services through the services offered by Export Promotion Council, Kenya Tourism Board, Brand Kenya and Kenya Airways. The Kenya House area attracted many visitors who were keen to taste the coffee, teas, nuts, fruit juices among other products displayed at the Kenya House section. They were also keen in other products and services presented by the agencies.
 
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C.    Meeting on Kenya-France Trade and Investment Potential
Presentations were made by the Export Promotion Council, Chief Executive Ruth Mwaniki and Kenya’s Ambassador to France, H.E. Salma Ahmed. The presentations depicted the unequal trade relations which see France benefiting more than Kenya, with Kenya exporting about KES. 5.4 Billion and importing about KES. 20.7 Billion worth of goods from France. This was attributed to lack of value addition on Kenya’s products and the lack of knowledge on the sensitive consumer tastes of the French market. It was noted that the agricultural and services sectors have the largest inequality ratios where we export larger volumes at cheaper rates and import smaller quantities of a higher value from France. It was emphasized that effo rts need to be made locally to export products in processed form rather than as raw materials. This will create jobs domestically as well as improve the balance of trade.
 
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After presentations, the audience was given time for question and answer session. There was consensus on the need to build local producer capacities to export products to the European market. There is also need to enhance a product traceabilty regime in Kenya in compliance with European Union requirements. It was also noted that there exists a great opportunity for the country to maximize its inter-Africa demand for meat and vegetable supply.

Recommendations:
  1. The Export Promotion Council to continue to sensitize counties on international export market opportunities, product standards,  demand and preferences to enable them develop appropriate products;
  2. The Government should develop and support a policy on value addition of the country’s export products to maximize on foreign exchange earnings.
  3. Efforts should be made to reduce the carriage costs that lead to making exports from Kenya comparatively expensive in the international market.
  4. Traceability of horticulture produce: It is deemed important to address the traceability issues in Kenya as it is paramount that the product backgrounds are known and documented.
  5. There is need to maintain complementarity and harmony among all the trade agencies in Kenya so as to facilitate trade promotion of Kenyan products.

D.    Cultural Performances and Exhibitions
In addition to the side meetings, the celebrations were characterized by a diversity of cultural performances and exhibitions from various parts of the country. On each day, there were happy hours from 1.00 pm – 2.00 pm and 5.00 pm – 8.00pm where cultural dances and performances were exhibited. The entertainment was provided by Bomas of Kenya, Bungoma, Kakamega, Tana River and Marsabit Counties. In light of the ongoing Intergovernmental Committee meeting on Intangible Cultural Heritage, participants from over 100 countries got the opportunity to sample the diversity of the Kenya cultural heritage that was on display throughout the week.

In addition, Kenya also showcased a host of exhibition materials throughout the period as well as giving the participants a chance to sample Kenyan teas, coffee, nuts and giveaways from the exhibition stands. The celebration was also characterized by a short film dubbed “Gold- You Can Do More Than You Think” which features the prominent Kenyan runner Henry Wanyoike who despite being blind has gone on to win international recognition and medals in sports.

Conclusion:
The Kenya Week in Paris achieved its objectives and was able to market Kenya not only as a destination for game and beach holidays, but also as a vibrant center for cultural tourism and a major hub to source products and services. Kenya Week in Paris also gave legislators, County Officials and government technocrats a chance to deepen their understanding of opportunities that the country can maximize on with UNESCO and the Government Agencies. The celebrations also provided a platform for sensitization on aspects of country branding, export promotion and tourism marketing.
 
 
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