NAIROBI: Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) will soon have a state-of-the-art cancer therapy machine from India.
Kenya will also receive Sh4.5 billion to boost local industries and a fully-fledged cancer hospital following deals between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday.
Mr Modi and President Kenyatta reached a deal that will see the construction of a pharmaceutical company that will help to significantly reduce the cost of medicine.
Financial deals included a line of credit agreement for Sh3 billion ($29.95 million) to the Kenya Government to upgrade the Rift Valley Textiles Factory.
An additional Sh1.5 billion ($15 million) will be extended to IDB Capital Limited for development of small and medium enterprises. These were among the agreements signed yesterday following multi-lateral and bilateral talks between the two leaders at State House, Nairobi.
The talks revolved around health, education, trade, ICT and knowledge transfer, energy, defence, tourism, immigration, sports and agriculture.
Modi handed over a model of Bhabhatron to Uhuru as a show of commitment after a joint press briefing ahead of a state luncheon in his honour. The Bhabhatron is a state-of-the-art nuclear medicine cancer therapy machine, developed and manufactured in India.
Other areas of co-operation include a revised agreement on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income on the Bureau of India Standards and Kenya Bureau of Standards, and exemption of visa for diplomatic passport holders.
The leaders also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to deepen co-operation in security, housing, education and energy among others.
Modi’s visit is expected to help reduce a huge trade imbalance, which is in favour of India as she exports goods worth Sh116 billion against Kenya’s Sh4 billion. The Premier praised the Jubilee government’s commitment to improving healthcare by offering affordable and quality services.
“I understand that healthcare is President Uhuru’s key priority. India’s strength, especially in pharmaceuticals, can join hands with your priorities to shape an affordable and efficient healthcare system in Kenya,” Modi said.
“This would not only meet the needs of your society, it could also help Kenya become a regional medical hub. In this regard, I am happy that the prestigious KNH will soon have the state-of-the-art made in India cancer therapy machine (Bhabhatron).”
He assured that his government would donate essential medicines and medical equipment.
“One of the other things we hope to do, eventually, is create a pharmaceutical drug manufacturing capacity here in Kenya, with the support of India,” the President said. “Such an effort would help us produce life-saving drugs needed by so many of our citizens, including ARVs (antiretroviral drugs).”
Uhuru said co-operation between the two nations was critical and would grow stronger since thousands of Kenyans are of Indian descent.
“This is a unique opportunity for Kenya to take stock of the past and steps for the future as we benchmark our relationship with India. Our engagements have led to the signing of several agreements with the PM that will further strengthen our ties,” the President said.
“India will support the construction of the cancer hospital. When completed it will offer affordable and quality service. Many Kenyans seek cancer treatment in India. We are truly grateful for this venture,” he added.
Uhuru stressed that the deals signed would enable Kenya to benefit from Indian expertise, equipment and leadership.
“India is one of the brightest spots in the world economy. And Kenya is a land of strong opportunities. India is Kenya’s largest trading partner and the second largest investor here. But there is potential to achieve much more,” said Modi.
He added: “Kenya is a valued friend and trusted partner of India. The bonds between the two countries are long-standing and rich. We share a common legacy of struggle against colonialism. Our historical people-to-people ties provide a strong basis to our wide-ranging partnership.”
Modi revealed that the security partnership was key in achieving the development agenda. He said the success of M-Pesa was a classic innovation that had empowered millions of people around the world.
“Both sides have been working together in commercialising innovative technologies, and some of it will be evident at the business forum,” he promised.
“India and Kenya are connected by the Indian Ocean. We both have strong maritime tradition.”
Modi said the MoU on defence would strengthen institutional co-operation between the two nations’ defence establishments.
“Terrorism and the rapid spread of radical ideologies pose a common challenge to our people, our countries, the region and the whole world. We have agreed to deepen our security partnership including in the fields of cyber security, combating drugs and narcotics, and human trafficking,” said Modi.
He continued: “This would include greater staff exchanges, sharing of expertise and experiences, training and institution building, co-operation in hydrography, and supply of equipment.”
He said his country was encouraged by the progress in the power transmission project under an Indian line of credit of $60 million (Sh6 billion).
“Kenya’s highly successful geothermal sector and energy efficiency projects such as LED-based smart street lighting are a couple of new areas where we could build our engagement,” he added.
Modi said: “I am also happy to announce that the vibrant Indian culture, which is already a part of Kenya’s rich society, will be showcased in a Festival of India in Kenya later this year.
Before Modi’s visit, a sitting Indian prime minister last toured Kenya in 1982.
“There are thousands of Kenyans of Indian descent who are my voters and not yours (Modi),” said Uhuru on a light note.
Before the talks, Modi was received at State House Nairobi with an elaborate state reception complete with a 19-gun salute.
The national anthems of Kenya and India were played by the Kenya Defence Forces band, followed by the gun salute.
The PM then inspected a guard of honour mounted by a detachment of the Kenya Air Force.