An Audience with the WTO

The first World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial conference on African soil was held in Nairobi at the end of last year. This conference gave me and others an opportunity not only to interact with the world on matters of trade and investment, but more importantly, for the International Trade Centre (ITC) and ETP, it gave us a golden chance to show case to the world what we have done so far in climate change adaptation and mitigation in the tea sector in East Africa.

In a funders’ breakfast meeting hosted by the ITC Executive Director and attended by ministers from the US, EU, Japan, and the UK amongst others, I had an opportunity to make a ten minute presentation (not power point) on the challenges the tea sector is facing, and the activities / interventions we have undertaken in the last four years, and the accruing impact this has had on smallholder tea farmers and communities.

I have to admit that first few seconds of my presentation were tense perhaps due to the mere thought that this was not any other presentation; I was speaking literally to drivers of global trade and perhaps the most influential countries in the world. However, as soon as I had made my introduction, the tension settled down and in its place budding confidence and assurance engulfed my whole being due to the loud attention and affirmation of each statement I made. The climax of it all was the end of the tenth minute when I received loud applause from the audience followed by a warm handshake from each of them. I was very encouraged to know that as an organisation, the whole world appreciates what we’re doing in Kenya. Indeed, it was a wonderful way to end the year!