(IMAGE: Qatari Energy Minister Mohamed Saleh Al-Sada with Kenyan Pesident Kenyatta)

President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a bilateral tax deal with Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani in one of many successes of a top-level visit by Kenya to Qatar to discuss a range of economic issues with Qatari government ministers and business and trade organisations.

In agreements signed at the Emir’s palace, the investors from either of the two countries will be protected from the double taxation of repatriated profits from ventures already taxed in the other, while the assets of both Kenyan and Qatari business people will be safeguarded.

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Qatar is the first Gulf country to establish a double tax agreement with Kenya. Similar talks were hosted by the UAE, as well as Iran, under the former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, but the countries did not finalise the negotiations.

Both the double taxation agreement and the asset guarantee agreement are expected to embolden rich Qatari firms to pump millions into Kenya’s energy and transport sectors.

“Qatar is ready to work with Kenya as it implements its flagship Vision 2030 projects such as the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor,” President Kenyatta’s team quoted the Emir as saying, citing LAPSSET as a project already in receipt of Qatari investment.

President Kenyatta also toured the current and new port in the capital Doha, and expressed his interest in bringing Qatari expertise in the modernisation of both Lamu and Mombasa ports.

Welcoming Qatari investments in tourism, services and industry, he said: “Kenya is seeking, through its good investment atmosphere and investor protection laws, to attract new foreign investment and provide as much job opportunity as possible.”

During the visit, President Kenyatta also met Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, chairman of the Qatar Business Association, who encouraged further support for the two investment agreements through the easing of legal procedures for Qatari investors interested in Kenya.

Kenyatta later noted: “We discussed various areas of cooperation, including energy generation, transport, agriculture and security, and witnessed the signing of four agreements on economic, commercial and technical cooperation that also lay the foundation for cooperation in capacity building and exchange of technical assistance in the legal sector.”

An MoU was also signed were between KenGen and Qatar’s Nebras Power Company, between Kenya’s Ministry of Mining and Qatar Mining Company, following additional talks between President Kenyatta and the Qatari Energy Minister Mohamed Saleh Al-Sada.

The Qatari bodies also pledged to support Kenya in its endeavour to position itself as a financial hub for East Africa, including in the rapidly developing market for Islamic finance.

Before the visit, spokesperson for the president Manoa Esipisu had noted: “President Kenyatta’s visit will further deepen robust relations date as far back as the 15th century when Arab traders were regular visitors to the East African coast for business and trade.”