India-Kenya Relations

Kenya shares borders with Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Tanzania. It gained independence from Britain in 1963. It has been led by Presidents Jomo Kenyatta (1963-78), Daniel arap Moi (1978-2002), Mwai Kibaki (2002-2013).  H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as President of Kenya on 9 April 2013. H.E. William Ruto is the Deputy President. Kenyans approved a new Constitution which came into force on August 27 2010. With a population of 42 million, Kenya has great ethnic diversity. The Indian Diaspora in Kenya has contributed to Kenya’s progress. Many Kenyans have studied in India. In recent times, there has been a growing trade (US$ 4.235 billion in 2014-15) and investment partnership. Indian firms have invested in telecommunications, petrochemicals and chemicals, floriculture, etc. and have executed engineering contracts in the power and other sectors.

India established the office of Commissioner (later Commissioner General) for British East Africa resident in Nairobi in 1948. Following Kenyan independence in December 1963, a High Commission was established. Also, India has had an Assistant High Commission in Mombasa.

Vice President Dr. S Radhakrishnan visited Kenya in July 1956. Smt. Indira Gandhi attended the Kenyan Independence celebrations in 1963. President Daniel arap Moi visited India in February 1981.  President Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi also visited Kenya in that year.

A Joint Commission was set up in 1999. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Foreign Office Consultations was signed during the meeting.

Hon’ble Speaker Smt. Meira Kumar led the Indian parliamentary delegation to the 56th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Nairobi in September 2010. Hon’ble Commerce & Industry Minister Shri Anand Sharma called on Prime Minister Odinga and held consultations with Minister of Trade Hon. Ambassador Chirau Ali Mwakwere during his visit to Kenya for the 6th session of the India-Kenya Joint Trade Committee in October 2010.  During 2010, Kenya’s Prime Minister Hon. Raila Odinga met Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during a visit to India in November to attend the India Economic Summit organized by the World Economic Forum. He had visited Gujarat in 2009.  Hon’ble Minister for External Affairs Shri S.M. Krishna visited Nairobi on May 27-28, 2011. During the visit, he met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Government Hon. Musalia Mudavadi.

H.E. Hon. Mwai Kibaki, President of the Republic of Kenya, attended the 2nd India-Africa Forum Summit held in Addis Ababa on May 24-25, 2011. He met Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on May 25 on the margins of the Forum Summit.

Hon’ble MoS for Human Resource Development Dr. Shashi Tharoor attended the inauguration ceremony of President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi on 9 April 2013 as Special Envoy of the Prime Minister. He called on President Kenyatta on 10 April.  The Special Envoy of the Hon’ble Prime Minister and Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs, Smt. Preneet Kaur, attended the celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of Kenyan Independence in Nairobi on 12 December, 2013.

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar, visited Nairobi from June 25-28, 2014 to lead Indian delegation at the Ministerial segment of the inaugural session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  The Chief of Naval Staff of India visited Kenya in November, 2014.

President Uhuru Kenyatta led the Kenyan delegation for the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit held from 26-29 October, 2015 in New Delhi.  He held bilateral meeting with Prime Minister.  Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed was part of the delegation and she also participated in the IAFS Trade Ministers’ meeting on 23 October, 2015. Earlier in July 2015, Special Envoy of PM and MOS for Foreign Affairs Gen. V.K. Singh visited Nairobi and handed over the PM’s invitation to attend the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit held in October, 2015. 

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Commerce and Industry, Smt. Nirmala Sitaraman led the Indian delegation for the 10th WTO Ministerial meeting held in Nairobi from 15-19 December, 2015.  She called on President Kenyatta and Kenyan Foreign Affairs & International Trade Minister and held bilateral discussions.

There has been a long tradition of naval visits, the latest being the visits of INS Jamuna in September-October, 2014, Western Fleet in October, 2014, Chief of Naval Staff of India in November, 2014 and ICGS Samarth in February, 2016.

Kenya is a founder-member in the Indian Ocean Rim Association.

Economic and Business Links

An India-Kenya Trade Agreement was signed in 1981, under which both countries accorded Most Favoured Nation status to each other. The India-Kenya Joint Trade Committee (JTC) was set up at Ministerial level in 1983 as a follow-up to the Agreement. The JTC has met seven times since, the last in February 2015 in New Delhi.  A Joint Business Council was set up in 1985 by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KNCCI). The KNCCI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in 1996.

Development Cooperation

India offers development assistance to Kenya in the form of loans and credit. This 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. An Agreement on extension of a Line of Credit of US$ 61.6 million by EXIM Bank of India to the Government of Kenya for utilization in the power transmission sector was signed during the visit of Prime Minister Raila Odinga to India in November 2010.

In April 2015, GOI approved US$100 million LOC to Government of Kenya for Agricultural Mechanisation Project, in January 2016 GOI decided to extend a LOC of US$ 15 million (as first tranche out of US$ 30 million) to IDB Capital Limited, Kenya for development of various SMEs and in February 2016, a LOC of US$ 29.95 million was approved by GOI to the Government of Kenya for upgradation of Rift Valley Textiles Factory (RIVATEX East Africa Limited).

In 1998, an MoU was signed between the National Small Industries Corporation and Kenya Industrial Estates Ltd. In 2003, an MoU was signed between India Trade Promotion Organisation and Export Promotion Council of Kenya.

An Agreement was signed in July 2009 between TCIL and the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communication regarding the project. Equipment was delivered by TCIL in 2010. 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).


Kenya is an important trade and investment partner for India.  Bilateral trade was US$ 4.235 billion during 2014-15. India’s exports were worth nearly US$ 4.12 billion.

India-Kenya Trade (US$ billion)


Indian Exports

Indian Imports

Total Trade














2015-16 (Apr
to Nov)




Source : Department of Commerce, India and Kenya National Bureau of Statistics

Principal Indian exports to Kenya include pharmaceuticals, steel products, machinery, yarn, vehicles and power transmission equipment. Main Kenyan exports to India include soda ash, vegetables, tea, leather and metal scrap.


Tata Chemicals Ltd. acquired Magadi Soda Company Limited in 2005. Several leading Indian public sector insurance companies participate in KenIndia Assurance Co. Ltd. More recent investments by Indian corporates in businesses in Kenya include Essar Energy (petroleum refining), Bharti Airtel, Reliance Industries Ltd. (petroleum retail); Tata (Africa) (automobiles, IT, pharmaceuticals, etc.). Several Indian firms including KEC, Karuturi Ltd., Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd., Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd., Kirloskar Brothers Ltd., Mahindra & Mahindra, Thermax, WIPRO, Jain Irrigation System Ltd., Punj Lloyd, VIL Ltd., Emcure, Dr. Reddy, Cipla, Cadila, TVS and Mahindra Satyams, etc., have a business presence in Kenya as do the Bank of India and the Bank of Baroda. HDFC and the Central Bank of India have Representative Offices in Kenya.

An India-Kenya Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) was signed in 1989. The 2nd round of negotiations to review the DTAA was held in Nairobi in November 2010.

Connectivity and Travel

Air India’s operations to Nairobi via Aden, which began on January 21 1951, the carrier’s second overseas route after London, ended in January 2010 and Air India closed its Nairobi office in March 2011.  Kenya Airways flies to Mumbai. Kenya Airways signed a code-share agreement with Jet Airways in 2010. Foreign airlines also provide air connectivity via Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

Many Kenyans live and study in India. Nearly 18,000 visas for India are issued annually. Many Indians travel to Kenya for tourism as well as on business.

Academic and Cultural Links

Government of India offered over 164 scholarships to Kenyan nationals in 2014-15. These include scholarships for professional training in various fields under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme and related schemes and Indian Council of Cultural Relations scholarships. A Cultural Cooperation Agreement was signed in 1981. Kenya sent its largest ever sporting contingent to the 19th Commonwealth Games 2010 at New Delhi.

The late Kenyan Nobel Peace laureate and environmentalist Prof. Wangari Maathai had been conferred the 2005 Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in March 2007 by the President, Shri APJ Abdul Kalam as well as the 2006 Indira Gandhi Award for Peace, Disarmament and Development by the President, Smt. Pratibha Patil in November 2007. 

Indian Community and Diaspora in Kenya

Although trade links between India and East Africa go back several centuries, recent migration from India took place in the 19th and early 20th centuries via Lamu, Zanzibar and Mombasa. Indians were brought in large numbers to work on the Uganda Railroad. Merchants, artisans and others followed. Eventually, a vibrant community of persons of Indian origin, presently numbered 80,000 including an estimated 20,000 Indian citizens, emerged.

Prominent figures of the Kenyan Indian community in Kenya’s pre-independence period included the labour leader Makhan Singh. M. A. Desai and Pio Gama Pinto participated actively in Kenya’s independence struggle. Indian MP Diwan Chaman Lall joined Jomo Kenyatta’s defence team which included two other persons of Indian origin, F R S DeSouza (later Kenya’s Deputy Speaker) and A R Kapila, at his 1953 trial. Several Kenyans of Indian origin have distinguished themselves as lawyers, judges, doctors and academics.

Three persons of Indian origin from Kenya have been awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman:  Mr. Manilal Premchand Chandaria, Mr. Pheroze Nowrojee and Dr. FRS De Souza.  

 The Kenya-India Friendship Association (KIFA) was set up in 1981. The current Chairperson is Dr. Kenneth S. Ombongi. There are a large number of associations representing different communities among the Indian Diaspora as well as several places of worship, schools, etc.

An Indian Diaspora Engagement Meet in East Africa was organised in Nairobi on 13-14 April 2012 by Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) in association with the High Commission of India.
Useful Resources
Website of High Commission of India, Nairobi: https://hcinairobi.co.ke
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/India-in-Kenya-High-Commission-of-India-Nairobi/894496970596247
Twitter: https://twitter.com/IndiainKenya
February 2016

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