External Affairs

Kenya’s Priority is Healthcare Collaboration, Indian Emphasis is on Security

While Kenyatta focused on his pet project of increasing investment in the health sector, Modi pushed for a faster process to draw up an action plan on security collaboration.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with President of the Republic of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta before a meeting at Hyderabad house in New Delhi on Wednesday. Credit: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with President of the Republic of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta before a meeting at Hyderabad house in New Delhi on Wednesday. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked India to give Kenya greater market access for goods, help boost its agriculture and medical sectors, and increase the number of scholarships, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushed for a faster process to draw up an action plan on security collaboration at their bilateral talks on Wednesday.

The two leaders met in Delhi almost six months after Modi was in Nairobi as part of his four-nation African tour in July 2016.

Two agreements were signed after the talks – a memorandum of understanding on agricultural cooperation and an agreement for $100 million line of credit for agriculture mechanisation.

Kenyatta, who attended the Vibrant Gujarat summit before reaching Delhi, said that the “relationship between India and Kenya in the political, socio and economic spheres, especially trade and investment, has grown over time”.

The Kenyan leader, who is likely to stand for re-election in August, had come with a wishlist for New Delhi.

Getting investment in the health sector has been of particular interest to Kenyatta, who devoted a significant part of his statement to the subject on this trip as well.

“India’s strength in the provisioning of health services is globally acknowledged. Indeed, many of our countrymen and women travel to India every year. Advanced technology coupled with price competitiveness makes your country a preferred destination for thousands of Kenyans seeking quality healthcare,” he said.

He also added that an Indian soft loan will be used for setting up a cancer treatment hospital – which is “greatly anticipated as it will also go a long way to ensure that quality and affordable treatment is also available for Kenyans who cannot afford to travel to India”.

More than 10,000 Kenyans travel to India for medical treatment, spending millions of dollars in private hospitals in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. Further, Kenya spends over $482 million on importing drugs – 80% of which are sourced from India.

Kenyatta reiterated that he would like to see Indian pharma companies invest in a manufacturing facility in the east Africa’s dominant economy.

“Kenya relies heavily on generic anti-retro viral drugs manufactured in India. Ensuring that these drugs are available to people infected with HIV is also a top priority for my government… Kenya would also benefit greatly from collaboration and transfer of technology from investment by Indian pharmaceuticals in Kenya, given the large market and demand for these drugs in the region,” he said.

Even when he asked for more scholarships, Kenyatta listed the sectors for training as “medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and ICT which are relevant to our national development priority areas”.

With bilateral trade heavily tilted in India’s favour, Kenyatta called for greater access to Indian markets. “To help bridge the balance of trade deficit that exists, I have pitched for India to improve market access for products with high demand in India such as leather products and pulses. I request India to consider extending the project targeting African cotton-growing countries to Kenya, as this will also help to increase cotton production,” he said.

Modi also stressed that India was looking to have a “long-term arrangement” for the import of pulses from Kenya.

On the strategic front, Modi stressed that India and Kenya were working to “strengthen our security cooperation and capacities”.

“In this context, we have directed the Joint Working Group to meet early. It would focus on cyber security, counter terrorism, combating drugs, narcotics, human trafficking and money laundering,” he added.

The joint statement added that the establishment of the JWG on security needs to be expedited so as to prepare an “action plan” for enhancing security-related collaboration.

“It was agreed to build a bilateral legal framework with early conclusion of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, an Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons and a Memorandum of Understanding on Controlling Narcotics,” said the bilateral document.