In December 1963, the Soviet Union became the second country in the world to recognise the young Republic of Kenya as an independent state. That was a manifestation of the consistent policy of Russia to support the anti-colonial struggle for liberation of the people of Africa and around the globe.
However, the history of our relations started long before Kenya’s independence. Let me highlight a few little known, but exciting episodes of our common past.
On the eve of the First World War, Vladimir Troitsky and Vladimir Nikitin of the Moscow University travelled across Kenya at different times between 1912 and 1914. Their scientific observations contributed to the knowledge of zoology and anthropology of the region. An account of Troitsky’s journey was published in 1928.
At the same time, in 1933, a Russian pilot and adventurer named Boris Sergievsky flew from Cape Town to Nairobi, covering more than 5,000 kilometres in a light amphibious aircraft.
After the attainment of independence, Russia’s development aid to Kenya became an important part of our bilateral cooperation. For example, the Russian Scholarship Programme has been running successfully for more than half a century.
Since the mid-1960s, thousands of Kenyans have been trained in various Soviet and Russian universities to become doctors, engineers, teachers, civil servants, and, most recently, IT experts and software developers. And Russia will continue to provide governmental scholarships to bright young Kenyans willing to pursue higher and postgraduate education in the country.
The aid is not limited to education. A Russian-funded hospital has been operating in Kisumu since 1967. It is now called the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital and serves patients from seven counties in the Western and Nyanza regions.
Today, we consider Kenya our important partner in Africa—a regional powerhouse in political, economic, and humanitarian centre on the continent.
We respect the constructive and independent approach of Kenya to the issues on the global agenda, including in the United Nations and other international fora, and we appreciate fruitful political cooperation with the country.
As a dynamically developing and technologically advanced country, Russia has much to offer to Kenya, our third largest economic partner in sub-Saharan Africa. Russia supports the Big Four agenda and is ready to help whenever called upon.
Our bilateral trade worth Sh34 billion is well-balanced and growing steadily, and we are looking forward to expanding the cooperation to other areas including technology, energy, investment, joint projects, and tourism.
This year, the Russian oil giant LUKOIL launched the sales of its lubricant products in Kenya and other economic operators are exploring opportunities to enter the local market.
In a short time, we hope to complete the necessary formalities to establish the Intergovernmental Russian-Kenyan Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation expected to take our partnership to a whole new level. A number of sectoral agreements are also expected to be finalised and signed.
We value Kenya’s role in securing regional peace and stability, its firm commitment to confronting the evils of international terrorism, piracy, and transboundary crime. Russia is contributing to these efforts by providing training to Kenyan police officers.
The Embassy of the Russian Federation will continue to make all the necessary efforts to promote and facilitate further development and expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation between Russia and Kenya. Happy Jamhuri Day to all Kenyans! – Writer is the Russian Federation Ambassador to Kenya