Kenya: Russia's Vladimir Putin Woos Kenya With Military Kit and Energy

Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, speaks at a plenary session entitled "Russia and Africa: Uncovering the Potential for Cooperation" at the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit at the Sirius Park of Science and Art in Sochi, Russia, 23 October 2019.
26 October 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin pitched infrastructure, energy and military hardware opportunities to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Moscow when he met African leaders on the last day of the Russia-Africa Economic Forum.

Mr Putin who engaged Mr Kenyatta and other African leaders during the meeting in Sochi said Moscow is ready to support African countries to beef up trade and investment deals with Moscow.

EXPORTS

Mr Putin said the current level of trade between Moscow and the continent was "not enough".

"We currently export to Africa $25 billion worth of food -- which is more than we export in arms, at $15 billion. In the next four to five years, I think we should be able to double this trade, at least," he said.

During the conference, The Roscongress Foundation, the co-organiser of the conference signed co-operation agreements to establish effective communication between the expert and business communities of the Russian Federation and Kenya. Other organisers were Afreximbank and the Russian Federation.

The agreement was signed with the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce headed by Richard Ngatia.

Mr Ngatia said the Kenyan Chamber would help Russian businesses to explore "abundant" trade and business opportunities in Kenya as teh local firms also tour Russia.

East African Community Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko said that the EAC economies were virgin and quite endowed with massive natural resources that Russians could explore.

"One potential area where the EAC is deficient is the provision of critical services for business and investment in areas like transport, logistics and technicians. Both parties need to explore the existing gaps," he said.

OLD TIES

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau earlier said Kenya will be eyeing deals across various sectors, including medicine, blue economy, aeronautical and space engineering.

International relations experts said earlier that Moscow was keen to re-establish its old Soviet ties with African States as it presents itself as the alternative to perceived "self-interested" colonial powers.

"Russian President Vladmir Putin seems to have new aspirations in Africa to restore his country to strong power status, spurred by concerns that China, India, Brazil and especially the United States are intensifying their involvement in Africa," said Aruuke Uran Kyzy, a researcher at the TRT World Research Centre.

Kenya buys a significant amount of Russian arms and has been exploring its market for its bulk tea.

Russian imports to Kenya jumped 8.16 percent to Sh22.37 billion in 2018, up from Sh20.68 billion in 2017, according to the Russian Export Centre.

Conversely, Kenya's exports to Russia stood at Sh12.85 billion last year. In 2017, one of Russia's largest privately owned banks, Promsvyazbank, said it was considering expanding into Kenya.

Alexander Meshcheryakov, head of transaction and international business at Promsvyazbank told Reuters the lender was studying Kenya and other African countries.

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