Kenya’s President William Samoei Ruto’s has arrived in New Delhi for a three-day State visit. This marks the first presidential trip from Kenya to India in over six years, signifying a renewed commitment to fortifying the bilateral relations between these two nations.
President Ruto’s official engagements include meetings with Indian leaders, including President (Mrs) Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as outlined by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The visit is poised to strengthen diplomatic ties that have endured for decades, emphasising the historical and contemporary significance for both the countries’ relations.
President Ruto’s visit holds strategic importance, coming approximately three months after the African Union’s induction into the G20 during its New Delhi summit. The MEA has highlighted the visit’s potential to strengthen bilateral relations, emphasizing the positive trajectory of India’s diplomatic engagements with African nations.
The ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Tuesday will set the tone for detailed discussions between President Ruto and Prime Minister Modi. Additionally, the Kenyan leader is scheduled to attend a business and investment event in the city, reflecting the multifaceted nature of India-Kenya collaboration. A state banquet hosted by the Indian President further underscores the diplomatic significance of this visit.
Preceding President Ruto’s visit, V Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs, last month visited Kenya with a 30-member business delegation. This proactive engagement reinforces the commitment to fostering economic ties between the two nations.
Their Cabinet Secretary for Defence, Aden Bare Duale, undertook a three-day visit to New Delhi in August 2023. During this visit, he engaged in talks with India’s Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, and visited Indian shipyards and defence industries in Goa and Bengaluru.
Cabinet Secretary Duale’s visit signified the highest-level standalone political visit from the African country since the new government took office in September 2022, highlighting the depth and continuity of diplomatic engagements.
More about Kenya-India relations
New Delhi established the office of Commissioner (later Commissioner General) for British East Africa resident in Nairobi in 1948. Following Kenyan independence in December 1963, a High Commission was established. Also, India has had an Assistant High Commission in Mombasa.
Economic and Business Links :
An India-Kenya Trade Agreement was signed in 1981, under which both countries accorded Most Favoured Nation status to each other. The Joint Trade Committee (JTC) between both the nations was set up at Ministerial level in 1983 as a follow-up to the Agreement.
The JTC has met seven times since, the last in February 2015 in New Delhi. A Joint Business Council was set up in 1985 by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KNCCI). The KNCCI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in 1996.
Development Cooperation :
New Delhi offers development assistance to Nairobi in the form of loans and credit. This includes a loan of Rs. 50 million to Government of Kenya in 1982 and Lines of Credit by EXIM Bank to Industrial Development Bank Capital Ltd.
An Agreement on extension of a Line of Credit of $ 61.6 Million by EXIM Bank of India to the Government of Kenya for utilisation in the power transmission sector was signed during the visit of Prime Minister Raila Odinga to India in November 2010.
In April 2015, GOI approved $100 Million LOC to Government of Kenya for Agricultural Mechanisation Project.
In 1998, an MoU was signed between the National Small Industries Corporation and Kenya Industrial Estates Ltd. In 2003, an MoU was signed between India Trade Promotion Organisation and Export Promotion Council of Kenya.
An Agreement was signed in July 2009 between TCIL and the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communication regarding the project. Equipment was delivered by TCIL in 2010. VSAT terminals have been installed at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi (August 2011) and at Maseno University Varsity Plaza for Learning Centre in Kisumu (September 2011).
Nairobi is an important trade and investment partner for New Delhi. Bilateral trade was $ 4.2 Billion during 2014-15. India’s exports were worth nearly $ 4.12 Billion.
Principal Indian exports to the African nation include pharmaceuticals, steel products, machinery, yarn, vehicles and power transmission equipment. Main Kenyan exports to India include soda ash, vegetables, tea, leather and metal scrap.
Tata Chemicals Ltd. acquired Magadi Soda Company Limited in 2005. Several leading Indian public sector insurance companies participate in KenIndia Assurance Co. Ltd. More recent investments by Indian corporates in businesses in Kenya include Essar Energy (petroleum refining), Bharti Airtel, Reliance Industries Ltd. (petroleum retail); Tata (Africa) (automobiles, IT, pharmaceuticals, etc.).
Several Indian firms including KEC, Karuturi Ltd., Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd., Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd., Kirloskar Brothers Ltd., Mahindra & Mahindra, Thermax, WIPRO, Jain Irrigation System Ltd., Punj Lloyd, VIL Ltd., Emcure, Dr. Reddy, Cipla, Cadila, TVS and Mahindra Satyams, etc., have a business presence in Kenya as do the Bank of India and the Bank of Baroda. HDFC and the Central Bank of India have Representative Offices in Kenya.
A Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) was signed between both the countries in 1989. The 2nd round of negotiations to review the DTAA was held in Nairobi in November 2010
Connectivity and Travel :
Air India’s operations to Nairobi via Aden, which began on January 21 1951, the carrier’s second overseas route after London, ended in January 2010 and Air India closed its Nairobi office in March 2011. Kenyan Airways flies to Mumbai. Kenyan Airways signed a code-share agreement with Jet Airways in 2010. Foreign airlines also provide air connectivity via Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
Many Kenyans live and study in India. Nearly 18,000 visas for Indians are issued annually. Many Indians travel to Nairobi for tourism as well as on business.
Academic and Cultural Links :
GOI offered over 164 scholarships to Kenyan nationals in 2014-15. These include scholarships for professional training in various fields under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme and related schemes and Indian Council of Cultural Relations scholarships. A Cultural Cooperation Agreement was signed in 1981. Kenya sent its largest ever sporting contingent to the 19th Commonwealth Games 2010 at New Delhi.
The late Kenyan Nobel Peace laureate and environmentalist Prof. Wangari Maathai had been conferred the 2005 Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in March 2007 by the President, Shri APJ Abdul Kalam as well as the 2006 Indira Gandhi Award for Peace, Disarmament and Development by the President, Smt. Pratibha Patil in November 2007.