Russia is on a charm offensive to woo Kenya and President Putin is set to meet with President Kenyatta this October

  • President Kenyatta has been invited for the Russia-Africa political summit and the accompanying Russia-Africa Economic Forum.
  • Mr Putin is expected to engage Mr Kenyatta and other African leaders as he moves to beef up trade and investment deals between Russia and Africa.
  • Kenya’s quest to diversify its energy sources and tap into nuclear power plant has left Russia's Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation rubbings its palms in glee.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta are set to meet again this October as Moscow intensifies its efforts to woo Kenya and set a strong foothold in what it deems as a strategically important bilateral partner in the East African trading bloc.

President Kenyatta has been invited for the Russia-Africa political summit and the accompanying Russia-Africa Economic Forum scheduled for October 23-24 2019 in Sochi, Russia.

“Yes Kenya will be going,” Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said, Business Daily reported.

Mr Putin is expected to engage Mr Kenyatta and other African leaders as he moves to beef up trade and investment deals between Russia and Africa during the meeting.

What’s on the table

Mr Kamau says Kenya will be eyeing deals across various sectors, including medicine, blue economy, aeronautical and space engineering during the Russia-Africa political summit.

The director of the Russian Export Centre, Andrey Slepnev, says the centre will support expanding trade between Nairobi and Moscow.

He adds that Kenya can benefit from Russian expertise in drilling equipment, medicine, food, as well as infrastructure projects.

In 2018, Kenya’s exports to Russia stood at Sh12.85 billion ($128.5 million) and the centre says it supported the import into Kenya of Russian goods valued at Sh14.2 billion ($142 million).

Total exports from Russia to Kenya jumped 8.16% to Sh22.37 billion ($223.7 million) in 2018, up from Sh20.68 billion ($206.8 million) in 2017, according to the Russian Export Centre.

Arms and Nuclear deals

Kenya is a big consumer of arms and annually allocates billions to purchase modern military gear from the US and China. Kenya also sources a significant amount of arms from Russian and return the country is now exploring how it can tap into the Russian market by exporting its bulk tea there.

Igor Ivanovich Shuvalov, the chairman of Russian State Development Corporation (VEB.RF), is of the opinion that Kenya can tap into Russia’s demand for horticulture and its tourism market.

“This is a big opportunity Kenya can take advantage of,” Mr Shuvalov says. 

Kenya’s quest to diversify its energy sources by tapping a nuclear power plant has also left Russia's Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation rubbings its palms in glee.

Kenya is planning to build a nuclear plant in the next 8-10 years and has contracted China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to determine the most suitable location in the country in an ambitious two-year Site Characterisation study.

“Nuclear energy is extremely competitive in the long run when compared to other sources of energy, taking into consideration that new generation nuclear power plants can generate affordable and uninterrupted electricity for eight decades,” Viktor Polikarpov, regional vice-president of Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, said earlier on the Kenya prospects, Business Daily reported.

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