Kenya and Iran yesterday signed five memoranda of understanding to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries.
President William Ruto and Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi witnessed the signing of the five memoranda at State House, Nairobi, touching on cooperation in different sectors including Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), blue economy, livestock production and investment promotion.
Ruto hailed the memoranda and said they will enhance and further deepen bilateral relations for sustainable growth and development between the two countries.
“It is a special privilege to host President Raisi in Nairobi and his presence is testimony of the strong ties between Kenya and Iran. It is also a demonstration of our shared commitment to cooperate for the benefit of the people of the two countries.” Ruto said.
“I am delighted to report that President Raisi and I have just concluded highly productive bilateral discussions on a broad range of important issues.” President Ruto added.
The president explained that during their meeting, Kenya reaffirmed to president Raisi the important place of Iran as a critical strategic partner and the value that Kenya places on the friendly and fraternal relations between the two countries.
He cited areas of historical engagement and development cooperation which include education, scholarships, infrastructure, health, water, fisheries, agriculture and housing, urban and metropolitan development among others.
President Ruto added that Kenya will exploit the strong ties it enjoys with Iran to expand trade adding that trade volumes between the two countries are still low but with potential to grow.
He explained that Kenya and Iran will strike a formula that will facilitate higher exports of tea, coffee and meat.
“This will bring about the much-desired trade balance that is in favour of Iran.”
President Ruto observed that Kenya will also use the West Asian country’s wealth in technology and innovation for its development.
He pointed out that the setting up of the Iran House of Innovation and Technology in Nairobi will offer the right platform for Iranian and Kenyan businesses.
“This is an innovative way of enabling enterprises to access Iranian technologies, skills and information.”
He explained that Kenya and Iran are strategically located to be each other’s key points of entry into their respective regions.
“We will seek to capitalise on this unique advantage for our prosperity.” He added.
Ruto told the media that he and president Raisi exchanged views and shared ideas about emerging opportunities to improve the balance of trade between the two nations, observing that Kenya and Iran are strategically positioned to be each other’s key points of entry into their respective regions.
“I expressed to His Excellency the President our appreciation of our bilateral cooperation in the promotion of trade, particularly in the export of Kenyan products to Iran. More specifically, I sought the president’s commitment in facilitating the export of more tea, meat and other agricultural products to Iran and, through Iran, to Central Asian countries. Stronger collaboration with Iran is important for us in delivering the Agriculture value chain of our Bottom Up Economic Transformation Agenda.” President Ruto said.
He noted that trade volumes between Kenya and Iran have been on a steady upward trajectory, Kenya having exported tea worth $28.4 million (Sh4 billion) to Tehran in the first quarter of the year, which is an eight-fold increase from sales for the same period last year.
Kenya attaches great significance to the Iranian market since it is one of the most valued export destinations for our tea, he added.
From the State House meeting, it also emerged that Iran had shown great interest in promoting technological and entrepreneurial innovation among Kenyan youth by promoting incubation of Kenyan startups and creative industries through the Iran House of Innovation and Technology.
“As a global innovation powerhouse, Iran has made significant progress in the development and deployment of modern technologies in key industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and telecommunications. I have, therefore, invited wider and deeper collaboration in these and other critical sectors in the interest of our shared socio-economic and developmental objectives.” Ruto said.
On matters health, Ruto said in order to actualize the Universal Healthcare Coverage objective, a critical pillar of the Kenya Kwanza agenda, Kenya will continue to invite and learn from the expertise of Iran, claiming it has achieved a great degree of advancement in medicine and modern medical technology.
On automotive technology, Ruto delivered good news to players in the sector: “His Excellency conveyed to me information that will be good news for stakeholders in our mechanical and automotive sector, including dealers, engineers, technicians and other workers: Iran’s intention to set up a motor vehicle assembly plant in Mombasa to manufacture an indigenous Iranian vehicle that has been given the Kiswahili name ‘Kifaru’. I am confident that the project is as unstoppable as this name suggests.”
Reaffirming his government’s steadfast commitment to fostering and protecting all investments in the country both domestic and foreign, through the fair, consistent and effective application of the rule of law, Ruto reiterated to president Raisi that Kenya remains open and committed to receiving and hosting Iranian investors and businesspeople, and providing them with a conducive business atmosphere across the country.
“This highly productive visit has been an excellent opportunity for us to renew and reaffirm the strong bonds of friendship and solidarity between the governments and peoples of Kenya and Iran. Kenya remains committed to advancing and enhancing further engagement with Iran in our shared commitments to pursue the greater prosperity for our people.”
So far, Kenya and Iran have signed more than 22 MoUs and agreements.
The instruments have been key to the cooperation in development, education, scholarships, infrastructure, health, water, fisheries and agriculture.
Yesterday, Ruto and Dr Raisi witnessed the signing of new MoUs and agreements in the areas of agriculture, livestock, culture and heritage, information, ICT, fisheries, housing, urban and metropolitan development.
It was agreed that more Iranian firms will establish operations in the country, paving their way to accessing EAC, COMESA and AfCFTA markets of more than 1.4 billion people.