By Lorraine Owele
In the effort to elevate the level of engagement with partners, Kenya has prioritized economic and commercial diplomacy as a key pillar of its outreach to regional and international players. The mainstay of this effort has been to showcase Kenya’s comparative advantages particularly in the agricultural and tourism sectors.
The Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Seoul has taken up this clarion call and invested effort in advocating for a robust engagement with the Government of the Republic of Korea. The emphasis has been on information dissemination to create awareness on Kenyan products with the ultimate aim of increasing market share for Kenyan flagship products namely coffee, tea, flowers and premium tourism destinations.
In this regard the Mission, under the guidance of H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Gello and Ambassador Gathoga W. Chege who is in charge of the Economic Affairs docket, has participated in various shows and exhibitions in the spirit of amplifying Kenya’s presence in Korea and broadening the variety of products available to the Korean consumer. In the last quarter of 2018, the Mission was represented at the following key events:
1) Gangneung Coffee Festival
The Coffee Festival was held on 5th – 9th October, 2018 at the Green City Experience Center in Ezen, Gangneung. It is worth noting that the Kenya Embassy was the first foreign Mission to participate in this land mark event thus paving way for increased participation from other foreign Missions in Korea since 2015.
Through surveys conducted at the Gangneung festival, it is evident that Kenyan coffee is steadily gaining popularity among consumers in Korea owing to its distinct aroma and rich flavour. The Festival has been particularly instrumental in the promotion of Kenya’s coffee as well as Kenyan culture.
2) Itaewon Global Festival
The Festival was held on 13th -14th October, 2018 in the Itaewon Special Tourist Zone in Seoul. It is the biggest international festival in Korea and consists of over 200 booths with displays from different countries. The Festival attracts the participation of more than 1,400,000 international visitors who come to sample the diverse aspects of global culture and the array of food on display.
The Embassy of Kenya jointly participated in the festival with Kenyan handicraft dealers as a means of promoting Kenyan heritage and disseminating information on the various tourism destinations in Kenya. To date the Kenyan booth has attracted a lot of interest and recorded a large number of visitors drawn to the colourful cultural displays, the possibility of sampling a cup of delicious Kenyan coffee, the potential of a tantalizing visit to the land of the original safari as well as the warm welcome by Embassy staff who readily respond to visitor inquiries.
3) Cafe Show Seoul
The Café Show Seoul, the biggest annual coffee exhibition in Korea, was held on 8th -11th November, 2018 in COEX, Seoul. The Embassy jointly participated at the event with representatives from the Kenya Cooperative Coffee Exporters (KCCE). KCCE has consistently sent representation with merchandise for display during this important promotional event since 2012. As a result of this dedicated participation, KCCE started to export Kenyan coffee directly to major Korean wholesalers including E-mart and Lotte.
This exhibition has been fundamental in increasing the market share for Kenyan coffee in Korea and enhancing consumer awareness of premium Kenyan coffee products. It has further provided a great opportunity to develop networks with potential Korean buyers while maintaining good relations with existing contacts.