The value of imports into Kenya from India rallied to Sh194.3 billion in 2012, making it the top exporter to the country.
Full-year data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show single month Indian import values have been on a steady rise after dipping to Sh13.7 billion in August, to top at Sh20.6 billion in December.
The main imports from India range from textiles, petroleum products obtained from bituminous minerals (other than crude), medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, flat-rolled iron and non-alloy steel products, electrical goods, food-processing machinery, special purpose motor vehicles, to trucks.
Price-related factors, quality of goods and proximity of Indian ports on its West coast have been noted as among reasons the Asian tiger has become a top source market for Kenyan imports.
"We are realising that it is not just about price but also quality that is standing out for Indian imports, and this is something that can definitely be sustained in the near-term. Regional proximity of India also makes it easy to travel to and to transport goods to Kenya," Tiberius Barasa, the executive director of the Centre for Policy Research, a governance and public policy analysis think-tank, said in a recent interview.
Chinese imports value was second at Sh167.2 billion, followed by the United Arab Emirates' Sh150 billion worth of imports. Import value from the UAE of Sh28.5 billion in March was the highest recorded in a single month in 2012.
Kenya, a net importer of capital goods, has in recent years turned to Asia and fellow African countries for external trade, shifting away from its traditional European source markets with declining trade volumes.
The value of imports from South Africa - which is the only African country that makes it to the top 10 major source markets for imports into Kenya - amounted to Sh62 billion.