Tuesday May 17, 2022
Miraa traders in Maua town. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Miraa traders have expressed optimism that the regime change in Somalia on Sunday will revive trade relations with Kenya and salvage the dwindling fortunes of khat.
Somalia closed access to its market for Kenya in 2020 following a political fallout. The ban led to a loss of more than 50 tonnes of Kenyan khat valued at more than Sh20 million a day.
The return of former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was re-elected into office on Sunday night following an intense contest with the incumbent Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, has raised optimism of a resumption of normalcy in relations with Somalia.
“As an industry, we are happy that Mohamed Farmaajo has been voted out. The Kenya-Somalia relations worsened during his reign. We hope the channels of dialogue will re-open under President Mohamud,” Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) chairman Kimathi Munjuri said.
Somalia currently allows Ethiopia to export its khat to the country, locking out Kenya in a deal in which Mogadishu sells its fish to Addis Ababa.
Mr Munjuri accused the Kenyan government of mishandling the relations between the two neighbours. “The next government should employ a better strategy that will not cost us business. We should also separate diplomatic rows from trade,” he said.
Further, the Nyamita chairman said traders were ready to negotiate with the Somalia government to secure business privately.
He noted that the loss of the market had cost the country and miraa farmers billions of shillings leading to dire socio-economic consequences.
While acknowledging that Kenyan khat is smuggled to Somalia through the ocean, he called on the government to fasttrack talks with other countries to open up new markets, including DR Congo and Somaliland.