India & Kenya: Enduring Bonds

India Kenya

Blending trade, development and culture into a rich mosaic, the India-Kenya relations are unique in many ways. The relations hark back to waves of migration from Gujarat to East African counties in the early 19th and 20th centuries and acquired a new force during the anti-colonial struggle, with Kenyan Indians like Makhan Singh and Pio Gama Pinto becoming national figures. Now, the 70,000-strong Indian diaspora, which has carved a niche in just about every field of Kenyan socio-political and economic landscape, has become a bridge builder and connector between the two countries.

Cultural Connect

Cultural bonding is strong, with Hindi words like chapattis, biryani and samosas flowing seamlessly into Swahili spoken by Kenyans. In Kenya, there are all-Indian malls, Indian restaurants offering a mouth-watering variety of Indian cuisine and theatres showing Indian films.

These cultural interconnections nourished over the years, along with proactive diplomacy and frequent high-profile visits, account for the vibrancy in contemporary bilateral relationship between India and Kenya, East Africa’s economic powerhouse.

Doing Business

The spirit of enterprise animates the blossoming economic relationship that dates back to traders sailing to and fro between Mombasa and Mumbai decades ago. Bilateral trade had already exceeded $4 billion. Leading Indian companies have pitched their tent in this gateway to East Africa. Tata Chemicals, Essar Energy, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Industries Ltd, Mahindra and Mahindra are just some of top-billing corporates doing thriving business in Kenya. The economic relationship has been spurred by a series of joint mechanisms and agreements that include an India-Kenya Trade Agreement, which was signed in 1981, under which both countries accorded Most Favoured Nation status to each other. The setting up of India-Kenya Joint Trade Committee (JTC) and a Joint Business Council between business chambers of the two countries have stimulated the flow of investments.

Developmental Partnership

Developmental partnership remains as robust as ever. India has extended several lines of credit and grant running into millions of dollars for the development of power transmission sector and bolstering economic-related infrastructure. The assistance package by India includes a loan of Rs. 50 million to Government of Kenya in 1982 and Lines of Credit by EXIM Bank to Industrial Development Bank Capital Ltd. The EXIM Bank of India has provided a Line of Credit of US$ 61.6 million to the Kenyan government for the power transmission sector. India has pledged US$100 million LOC for Agricultural Mechanisation Project in Kenya.

The Pan African e-network has been received well in Kenya. VSAT terminals have been installed at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi (August 2011) and at Maseno University Varsity Plaza for Learning Centre in Kisumu (September 2011).

Training and Education

Training and nurturing human resource of Kenya is a shining pillar of India-Kenya partnership. The Indian government provides over 100 scholarships annually to Kenyan nationals, which includes scholarships for professional training under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme and Indian Council of Cultural Relations scholarships. India is also a preferred educational destination for Kenyan students. Many Kenyans live and study in India. Tourism is on an upswing, with nearly 18,000 visas issued by India to Kenyans annually.

Against the backdrop of rising extremism in the region, India-Kenya ties are also set to acquire a strategic dimension against the backdrop of rising extremism in the region. India promptly rallied behind Kenya when the Westgate Mall in Nairobi was attacked by savage terrorists.

India Writes Network

  • (This article was first published in – the official website of India-Africa Forum Summit-III)



Bilateral Trade: $4 billion +

LOCs/India-assisted projects

US$ 61.6 million for the power transmission sector

US$100 million LOC for Agricultural Mechanisation Project in Kenya.

VSAT terminals in Nairobi and Kisumu (September 2011).

Diaspora: 70,000 (approx.)


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