Defence on the agenda during Modi’s Kenya visit


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kenya earlier this month, a visit during which the two countries signed seven agreements in various fields, including tax laws, investments, trade, healthcare and defence cooperation.

Modi announced the extension of a concessional line of credit of $44.9m to Kenya to help it in developing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and textiles, LiveMint reports. “The multifaceted development partnership is a key pillar of our bilateral relationship,” Modi said during a joint press meeting with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta at Nairobi.

In the area of defence cooperation, both states agreed to exchange military and security personnel, along with sharing of expertise and training. Supply of military equipment was also mentioned.

Maritime security was among the main topics of discussion, as both countries seek increased presence in the Indian Ocean; Modi declared that closer cooperation in that field was an essential aspect of Kenyan-Indian bilateral defence agreements. “We have agreed to deepen our security partnership, including in fields of cybersecurity, combating drugs, narcotics and human trafficking,” Modi said, further emphasizing the common challenges of terrorism and radicalization faced by New Delhi and Nairobi.

Both countries have enjoyed close relations since Kenya’s independence in 1963, and bilateral economic cooperation expanded rapidly, becoming an exemplar of South-South cooperation. Prior to 1963, India supported Kenyan independence movements, and a sizeable Indian ethnic community still lives in Kenya today. New Delhi has become Nairobi’s largest trading partner and the second largest investor, with bilateral trade amounting to over $4bn in 2014-15. Major Indian conglomerates – some involved in defence manufacturing – such as Tata Group, Reliance Industries or Mahindra maintain presence in Kenya.

However, defence cooperation has remained limited. The rise of piracy and insecurity in the Indian Ocean has favoured stronger ties between Kenya (and other East African nations) and India in the field of maritime security.

Written by ADIT – The Bulletin and republished with permission.