Mr. Willy Kipkorir Bett
High Commissioner of
Kenya to India
He is credited with multiple initiatives aimed at boosting ties between the two countries in various fields
India and Kenya are maritime neighbors and share a common legacy of struggle against colonialism. Many Indians participated in Kenya’s freedom struggle and after its independence, in December 1963 India established its High Commission in Nairobi. Many Indian Prime Ministers have visited Kenya and helped establish several bilateral institutional mechanisms to strengthen trade, development, and defense cooperation between the two countries.
There’s a large and vibrant community of almost 80,000 people of Indian origin in Kenya. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kenya in 2016, 20,000 of them attended his address to the diaspora. Acknowledging their contribution to Kenya’s freedom struggle and economy, the Kenyan Government in 2017, recognized them as the 44th tribe in the country.
India has consistently strengthened its diplomatic relations with Kenya. It gifted 30 state-of-art India-made field ambulances and cancer therapy machine Bhabhatron II to Kenya. More recently, under the Vaccine Maitri initiative, Kenya received 1.12 million doses of Astra Zeneca, partly under the COVAX alliance and partly as a gift from India.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s state visit to India in 2017 was a significant step in boosting bilateral relations. AMoU on Cooperation in the agriculture and allied sector and LoC for US$100 million for agricultural mechanization was signed during the visit. Recently, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar paid an official visit to Nairobi to consolidate economic collaboration and enhance public-private partnership in the areas of Health, Environment, ICT, Tourism, Higher Education, Automotive, Defence, and Security.
An India-Kenya Trade Agreement was signed in 1981, under which both countries accorded ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status to each other. India was Kenya’s largest trading partner in 2014-15.
According to the Kenya Investment Authority (Ken Invest), India is the second-largest investor in Kenya with the presence of more than 60 major Indian companies, creating thousands of direct jobs for Kenyans. India has a bilateral ‘Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement’ (DTAA) with Kenya.
Citizen-to-citizen contact too has been strong. Kenya Airways flies to Mumbai twice daily. Air India has regular flights to Kenya. India is the third-largest source (other than its neighbours) of inbound tourists to Kenya numbering 122,649 in 2019. More than 3,500 Kenyan students were studying in India before Covid19. Kenya is host to ‘Bharatwallah Alumni Association’, an association of Kenyan students who have studied in India in the past ve decades.
The decade-old cultural bondwas formalised through a bilateral Cultural Cooperation Agreement in 1981.In2016, a ‘Festival of India in Kenya’ (Uraki Utsav) was held wherein six cultural troupes from India performed. Kenya crafts too travelled to India when Kenya participated in Surajkund International Crafts Mela in 2018 and 2019.
Both India and Kenya serve in the United Nation Security Council and are also members of the Commonwealth. Kenya is a significant stakeholder in determining the geopolitics of the Western Indian Ocean and stability in the region is their common interest.
Indian diaspora distinguishes itself in Kenya
India and Kenya share a common legacy of struggle against colonialism. Many Indians participated and supported the freedom struggle of Kenya. Prominent among those were the labour leader Makhan Singh, MA Desai and Pio Gama Pinto. Indian MP Diwan Chaman Lall joined Jomo Kenyatta’s defence team which included two other persons of Indian origin, FRS DeSouza (later Kenya’s Deputy Speaker) and AR Kapila, at his 1953 trial.
After its Independence, several Indian origin Kenyans have distinguished themselves as lawyers, judges, doctors and academics. Five of them— Manilal Premchand Chandaria, Pheroze Nowrojee, FRS De Souza, P.V. Sambasiva Rao and Prakash M.Heda— have been awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman:
The Kenya-India Friendship Association (KIFA) was set up in 1981. ‘Bharatwallah Alumni Association’ (an alumni association of Kenyan students who had studied in India for the last over 50 years) was launched in 2016. Indian origin MPs Dr Swarup Ranjan Mishra and Abdul Rahim Dawood visited New Delhi to attend the First PIO-Parliamentarians Conference in 2018.