On Thursday evening, 24 October 2019, the Kenyan and Russian delegations resolved to establish a Russia-Kenya business council to oversee the implementation of joint trade and investment programmes.
The delegations, led by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and his Russian host Vladimir Putin, met on the sidelines of the first Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi.
During the bilateral talks, the two leaders underscored the need for the business council saying it will provide a framework within which Kenya and Russia will pursue partnerships in trade, investment and development.
The Heads of State said entrenching bilateral and multilateral partnerships would help their respective countries in achieving faster progress in trade and security.
“To enhance the shared development and modernization agenda of our two countries, I consider it important to deepen people-to-people contact and our cooperation in security and defence, trade and investment, tourism, energy, culture, science and technology,” Kenyatta said in a statement issued in Nairobi on Friday.
He said although Kenya is the second largest trading partner of Russia in Africa, the full potential of the economic cooperation remains untapped.
He said there is need to identify ways of improving trade between the two countries, which currently is in favour of Russia, with a trade deficit of 2.3 billion US dollars.
Kenyatta said Kenya is keen on the establishment of regulatory environment that facilitate trade and investment flows and assured his host of his administration’s agreement to the setting up of the business council.
He said there is need for Kenya and Russia to renegotiate the Bilateral Air Services Agreement so as to establish direct cargo flights between the two countries as a mechanism for boosting commerce between Moscow and Nairobi.
Russia mainly imports cut flowers, coffee, tea, fruits and vegetables from Kenya while cereals, iron and steel, fertilizers and paper, are the top Russian imports into the Kenyan market.
Kenyatta invited Russians to invest in Kenya’s Big 4 Agenda priority areas of manufacturing, affordable housing, universal health and manufacturing saying direct investments would help “enhance economic cooperation”.
He singled out helicopter assembly, construction of affordable houses, tourist charter flight services and space technology as some of the opportunities available to Russian investors.
In the sector of energy, the President said Kenya is interested in tapping Russia’s expertise as a leader in the sustainable exploration and development of renewable energy and natural gas resources.
To bridge the trade imbalance that exists between Nairobi and Moscow, President Putin said the two nations need to prioritise cooperation in trade and investment.
“Last year it grew only a little, but it was still 1.2 percent growth. We are glad that several Russian companies have gained a foothold in the Kenyan market,” Putin said.