India-Kenya are maritime neighbors with robust and multi-faceted partnerships, marked by regular high-level visits, increasing trade and investment, and extensive people-to-people contacts. Read here to learn more.
The strength of India-Kenya relations is also based on Kenya hosting about 80,000 people of Indian origin.
India and Kenya have decided to increase cooperation in counter-terrorism as mentioned during the visit of the Kenyan President to India.
Five Memorandums of Understanding were exchanged following the discussions in several areas, including sports, Information Technology, and education.
Kenya is located in East Africa, known for its diverse landscapes, wildlife, and vibrant cultural heritage.
- Kenya is situated on the eastern coast of Africa, bordered by the Indian Ocean to the southeast. It shares land borders with Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, South Sudan to the northwest, Ethiopia to the north, and Somalia to the east.
- The country features diverse geographical features, including the Great Rift Valley, highlands, savannahs, and coastal regions.
- Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. It serves as an economic, political, and cultural hub.
- Mombasa (a coastal city and major seaport), Kisumu, Eldoret, and Nakuru are among other significant cities.
- Kenya has a diverse population comprising various ethnic groups, including the Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya, Maasai, and others. Nairobi is a cosmopolitan city with a mix of cultures.
- Swahili and English are the official languages. Swahili, a Bantu language with Arabic influences, is widely spoken across the country.
- Kenya is renowned for its wildlife and is a popular destination for safaris. National parks and reserves, including the Maasai Mara, Amboseli, and Tsavo, offer opportunities to witness a wide variety of animals.
- Kenya’s economy is diverse, with key sectors including agriculture, services, and industry. Agriculture plays a significant role, with coffee, tea, flowers, and horticultural products being major exports.
- Kenya actively engages in regional and international diplomacy. It is a member of the East African Community (EAC) and the African Union (AU).
History of India-Kenya Relations
The presence of Indians in East Africa is documented in the ‘Periplus of the Erythraean Sea’ or Guidebook of the Red Sea by an ancient Greek author written in 60 CE.
A well-established trade network existed between India and the Swahili Coast predating European exploration.
India and Kenya share a common legacy of struggle against colonialism. Many Indians participated in and supported the freedom struggle of Kenya.
India established the office of Commissioner for British East Africa residents in Nairobi in 1948. Following Kenyan independence in December 1963, a High Commission was established. India has had an Assistant High Commission in Mombasa.
Numerous Presidents and Prime ministers including Dr. S Radhakrishnan, Smt. Indira Gandhi, Moraji Desai, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, and Narendra Modi have visited Kenya on high-level bilateral visits.
India-Kenya Bilateral trade
An India-Kenya Trade Agreement was signed in 1981, under which both countries accorded Most Favoured Nation status to each other.
- Main Indian exports to Kenya include petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, steel products, machinery, yarn, vehicles, and power transmission equipment.
- Main Kenyan exports to India include soda ash, vegetables, tea, leather, and metal scrap.
India is the second largest investor in Kenya. Over 60 major Indian companies have invested in various sectors including manufacturing, real estate, pharmaceuticals, telecom, IT & ITES, banking, and agro-based industries.
Development Cooperation and Capacity Building
India offers development assistance to Kenya in the form of loans and credit.
India has a long-established connection with the African Union of which Kenya is an active member.
The Kenyan government in 2017, recognized the Indian descent as the 44th tribe in the country.
India has been involved in capacity-building initiatives in Kenya, including providing scholarships to Kenyan students to pursue higher education in India.
India has supported agricultural initiatives in Kenya, including the provision of agricultural machinery and technology transfer.
India has been a key supplier of pharmaceuticals to Kenya, contributing to healthcare initiatives and making medicines more accessible.
- Kenya was given 1.12 million doses of Covishield (AstraZeneca) in March 2021 (1.02 million under the COVAX alliance and 100,000 as a gift from India).
Both countries are also members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).
Indian Community and Diaspora in Kenya
Indians have been trading with the Swahili coast since early historical times as evidenced by ancient works. With the region coming under Omani rule, particularly Mogadishu, Mombasa, and Zanzibar, Indian presence remained part of the Swahili kaleidoscope.
With the advent of the Portuguese and finally the British, Indian involvement became deeper.
Prominent figures of the Kenyan Indian community in Kenya’s pre-independence period included the labor leader Makhan Singh. M. A. Desai and Pio Gama Pinto participated actively in Kenya’s independence struggle.
India-Kenya continues to build on its historical ties and explore new avenues for collaboration in diverse sectors. The diplomatic relations between the two nations are expected to strengthen, addressing shared challenges and leveraging opportunities for mutual development.
-Article by Swathi Satish