- Moreover, the economic collaboration between India and Kenya was a focal point of discussions.
- President Ruto commended India for being one of Kenya's largest trading partners and a substantial source of investment.
In the wake of President William Ruto's recent visit to India, the diplomatic landscape between the two nations seems poised for a significant transformation.
With both leaders expressing optimism and commitment to fortifying their ties, the visit has opened doors to a multitude of possibilities for collaborative efforts in diverse sectors. These include ICT, health, education and digital governance. The signing of several memoranda of understanding is key to deepening the warm bilateral relations.
President Ruto, acknowledging the longstanding relationship between India and Kenya, described the ties as "fantastic." His gratitude extended to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ensuring that the African Union secured a permanent seat at the G20 table, showcasing India's commitment to inclusivity on the global stage.
This move not only underscores the strategic partnership between India and Kenya, but also sets a precedent for enhanced collaboration between India and the entire African continent.
The symbolism of the President's visit is palpable, as it comes at a time when the world grapples with complex challenges such as climate change and global security and, in particular, in reforming the United Nations Security Council to make it fit for purpose in the realities of a multi-polar world.
During the visit, Ruto and Modi deliberated on various fronts, with maritime threats taking centre stage in the Indian Ocean. Recognising the common threat faced by both nations, they announced a collaborative effort between their defence forces. This move reflects a shared commitment to international cooperation in addressing security challenges.
In the Indian Ocean region, Kenya and India share similar aspirations for enhanced maritime security. This has been crystallised more robustly under the Bahari Initiative which includes countering maritime threats such as maritime terrorism, piracy, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Part of the pathways to actualise the initiative is to deepen cooperation by building on the 2016 memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation signed between the two nations.
Another significant area of cooperation is India's support for Kenya's blue economy by harnessing the untapped potential in this sector. This aligns with Kenya's ambitions for sustainable economic development and environmental conservation.
The shared commitment to addressing climate change was further emphasised during Prime Minister Modi's attendance at the World Climate Action Summit, reflecting India's dedication to global environmental initiatives. Kenya could learn from India’s experiences in green energy transmission and has welcomed investments in this regard.
Moreover, the economic collaboration between India and Kenya was a focal point of discussions. President Ruto commended India for being one of Kenya's largest trading partners and a substantial source of investment.
India's private sector, according to the President, is keen on expanding its footprint in Kenya, a testament to the growing economic ties between the two nations. The commitment to a $250 million aid package for Kenya's agricultural mechanisation is a concrete step toward realising shared economic goals.
As both nations are agrarian economies, the decision to exchange experiences and provide a significant line of credit for modernising Kenya's agricultural sector demonstrates a strategic approach to addressing common challenges. The exchange of ideas and resources in this critical sector holds the potential not only to boost Kenya's agricultural productivity, but also to foster innovation and sustainable practices.
Prime Minister Modi, echoing the sentiment of mutual progress, emphasised the steady advancement in trade and investment between the two nations. He highlighted India's role as a trusted development partner, contributing significantly to Kenya's skill development through initiatives like the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation and the India Council for Cultural Relations scholarships, under the Ministry of External Affairs of Government of India.
The visit also celebrated the thriving Indian community in Kenya, a testament to the inclusive character of Kenyan society. Ruto recognised the 80,000-strong Indian-origin community, emphasising their integration into Kenyan society while retaining their cultural identity.
It can be concluded that President Ruto's visit marks a pivotal moment in the evolving partnership between India and Kenya. The discussions and agreements reached during this visit paved the way for a multifaceted collaboration that extends beyond diplomatic niceties.
As both nations commit to working together not only for the well-being and progress of their people but also for the citizens of the Global South, the future holds promise for a deeper, more meaningful partnership that can serve as a model for South-South cooperation on the global stage.
The visit acts as a beacon, illuminating the path toward a future where nations collaborate for the greater good, setting an example for others to follow.
The authors are geopolitics researchers with interests in the Global South. They were 2023 Autumn Fellows at MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia