MOHAMED: A patriot who never tired of serving Kenya

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By AMINA MOHAMED
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I was privileged and lucky to have worked with Nicholas Kipyator Kiprono Biwott and to have considered him a friend. 

He was highly respected in international trade circles.

He counted the Trade ministers of the African continent, US, EU, Japan, Australia, the Middle East and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries among close friends.

They sought him out at ministerial meetings for counsel and support.

Most of them often travelled to Nairobi to consult with him, and, graciously and without fail, he met each of them, whether expected or on a detour from a neighbouring country.

It was amazing to watch him work, never giving up on positions he felt were critical for the growth of trade and investment in our country.

He was thoroughly disciplined and instilled a sense of purpose in all who worked closely with him.

He never tired of defending our great country and, for that reason, never left a meeting room before business was over — just in case Kenya lost an opportunity.

In many of the conversations I had with him, even as he negotiated Agoa and ensured that Kenya was the first country to sign and ratify it, he worried about the youth and the need to create opportunities.

Agoa would, he said, help us export our way out of poverty.

The 2001 WTO Doha Ministerial Conference could easily have been given his name: No one worked harder or more diligently to ensure a deal was struck.

He earned the world’s respect and admiration as a tough but fair negotiator who stayed on an issue until its resolution.

He saved the ACP-EU trade arrangement, which was threatened by two groups of countries who objected to an exemption under the WTO Trade Rules.

He negotiated through the night for the exemption and got it.

Without him, the ACP-EU trade arrangement, as we know it, would have changed dramatically in 2001.

Biwott would fly thousands of miles for a one-hour meeting if he was convinced it would help our farmers or businesses or just open new opportunities.

Ms Mohamed is the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs

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