India lends a helping hand to Kenya as China’s African Safari sends jitters

By Newsdesk June 15, 2021 08:53

India lends a helping hand to Kenya as China’s African Safari sends jitters

New Delhi, June 14: Led by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, India has kicked off discussions with Kenya to enhance collaboration in areas of trade and investment, defence and security cooperation, development partnerships in regional and multilateral fora, as well as people-to-people interaction.

Jaishankar, who landed in Nairobi on Saturday on a three-day visit, held bilateral talks with his Kenyan counterpart Raychelle Omamo straightaway, with both ministers also discussing cooperation in the United Nation Security Council (UNSC).

India and Kenya are currently serving in the UNSC and are also members of the Commonwealth. Kenya is an active member of the African Union, with which India has long-standing ties.

Jaishankar said Saturday that he was looking forward to the third meeting of the India-Kenya Joint Commission which will review all aspects of the bilateral relationship. The last meeting of the Joint Commission was held in New Delhi in March 2019 when the Indian delegation was led by late minister Sushma Swaraj.

“Delighted to be back in Kenya. Thank FM Raychelle Omamo for her gracious welcome and hospitality. A productive discussion on our bilateral cooperation that we will be taking forward through the Joint Commission,” the External Affairs Minister tweeted before holding a series of meetings meant to strengthen relations with Kenya.

“A detailed exchange on regional and global issues as befitting two UNSC members. A historical solidarity is today a modern partnership,” said Jaishankar.

India Kenya Meeting

As he meets several other ministers of the Kenyan government in Nairobi to take forward the India-Kenya relationship which both countries seek to deepen, Jaishankar will also interact with the thriving Indian-origin community, an important bridge between the two countries.

Jaishankar’s visit to Kenya comes at a critical time when Beijing is going all out to woo Kenya and several other African nations by investing hugely in the infrastructure projects which analysts term as China’s debt trap diplomacy.

The Xi Jinping government has given Kenya a grant of over 4 billion Kenya Shillings towards the construction of a new Ministry headquarters and recently also gifted two ‘VIP’ buses to Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs ‘ease’ movement of special guests around Nairobi during international meetings.

China insists that Kenya has benefitted a lot under the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and their relationship has deepened after the Strategic Comprehensive Cooperation Partnership Agreement signed in 2016 between the two countries.

A Chinese-built seaport in Kenya’s coastal county of Lamu has also become operational last month. The port creates a transport corridor that links landlocked South Sudan and Ethiopia to the Indian Ocean.

India takes Africa on a developmental path

According to the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest), 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 and ITES, banking and agro-based industries. Indian investments have resulted in creation of thousands of direct jobs to Kenyans. Indian pharmaceutical companies also have a substantial presence in Kenya.

Kenya has invited greater Indian investment and business linkages in areas such as agro-processing, food processing, cold-storages, textile, leather, leather products and ICT sectors.

With India offering massive support to several African countries — nearly 51 out of 54 nations have projects of some kind either grant or on lines of credit from India – Kenya too has been getting a sizable development assistance in the form of loans and credit.

As Jaishankar said at the Raisina Dialogue in April this year, the Narendra Modi government has been helping several countries in the continent “to fish rather than giving them the fish” through enhancing capability building – be it human capability or an asset creation.

“When we speak of South South cooperation, for us a large part of that is within Asia, and also our relationship with Africa. And we have, certainly in the last six years, since Prime Minister Modi came to office; we have really stepped on the bus,” Jaishankar had said.

“I think if you look at a lot of what we have done, and some of the examples, I mean, a country like Mauritania, it’s the other end of Africa. I mean, my strategic interest there is not particularly high. But the fact that we could go out there and build a milk processing plant, or the fact that we’ve been very active in water treatment systems in Tanzania and Mozambique, or in reviving, we’ve done a textile plant in Kenya, or cement plant in Djibouti, sugar in different countries,” the minister said while detailing the efforts of the government in the region.

Initiatives like ‘Vaccine Maitri’ – Kenya was given 1.12 million doses of AstraZeneca (1.02 million under COVAX alliance and 100000 as gift from India) vaccine – during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has certainly helped India enhance its footprint in the African continent. It remains the same for the Pacific Island all the way through Asia and the Caribbean.

By Newsdesk June 15, 2021 08:53