By Margaret Kalekye

NAIROBI, Nov 25 (NNN-KBC) — The Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Kenya, Stefano Dejak, says the 19 ambassadors and high commissioners from the EU in Nairobi are ready to dialogue with Kenya on what areas the country would like to engage in with the EU.

In an apparent paradigm shift, the EU would finance development projects chosen by Kenyans themselves and not those selected by the EU as in the past, Dejak said when he paid a courtesy call on Deputy President William Ruto at his Karen residence here Tuesday.

“We need the political dialogue urgently. We need your guidance and assistance that can translate into action in areas we can do business with you and invest in this country,” Dejak said.

Ruto agreed that there was a need to expand the scope of co-operation between the EU and Kenya, especially in increasing Kenya’s exports to the EU. He said the relationship between Kenya and the EU was underpinned by engagement in business and investments.

He expressed the government’s appreciation for the EU’s assistance to the country but called for increased investment in infrastructure, which he said formed an important part of Kenya’s development agenda.

Ruto also appealed to the EU to increase its financial assistance in the repatriation of refugees from Kenya back to Somalia saying it was prudent on both political and humanitarian grounds.

“We have one million people (from Somalia) who have been living in refugee camps in Kenya for decades and it’s only human to have them repatriated in the spirit of the tripartite agreement signed between Kenya, Somalia and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR),” he added.

Meanwhile, Kenya has been named East Africa’s largest economy, according to a report by the Oxford Business group launched at the opening of the second edition of the Kenya International Investment Conference (KIICO) here.

The report reveals that Kenya’s economic outlook for the years ahead looks robust, despite recent challenges such as a trade deficit and rising debt.

According to official forecasts, Kenya is set to outperform key economic indicators, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth expected to be around 6.5 to 7.0 per cent in 2015 and to continue at a similar level for the coming years. This follows growth of 5.3 per cent in 2014 and 5.7 per cent in 2013. — NNN-KBC