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Kenya rolls out the red carpet for India’s PM Narendra Modi today

By Graham Kajilwa | July 10th 2016

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected in the country this afternoon.

Mr Modi will be received by President Uhuru Kenyatta with whom he will hold bilateral talks at State House Nairobi to finalise sub-bilateral agreements initiated late last year.

During his visit to New Delhi in October 2015 for the India Africa Summit, President Kenyatta invited Modi to visit Kenya. Modi’s visit this week marks the first by an India Prime Minister in 35 years.

The last visit was in 1981 during the reign of retired President Daniel Moi when both India PM Indra Gandhi and President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy toured the country.

“It is not that no leader has been willing to visit, but their itineraries have been different. However, this has happened at long last,” said India High Commissioner to Kenya Suchitra Durai.

Modi started his African tour with Mozambique on Thursday before heading to South Africa and winds up his programme in Kenya. The 66-year-old is the 14th Prime Minister of India.

It is his pledge to turn around the economy of India that earned him victory in May 2014 elections and his party clinched 284 seats of the 534 in the lower house of India’s Parliament.

That victory marked the end the 60-year rule of the India National Congress party. Modi is also said to be very close to United States President Barack Obama, having met him several times to discuss economic and security issues.

It is during his tenure that he organised the largest India Africa Summit held in New Delhi and attended by all 54 African nations to evaluate Africa-India ties, especially in terms of trade.

In the summit, Modi announced a credit line of Sh1 trillion ($10 billion) to African nations over the next five years.

“Of course, this will be a key part of the discussion between PM Modi and President Kenyatta. We are expecting a major announcement on how Kenya will benefit from this assistance, both in terms of grants and credit lines,” said Ms Durai.

Of India’s total export of Sh31 trillion ($310 billion), Africa accounted for Sh3.2 trillion ($32 billion). Kenya is the second top exporter to India (Sh410 billion) after South Africa.

In Africa, Kenya stands at position five in India’s list of largest trading partners after Nigeria, South Africa, Angola and Egypt.

Modi is also expected to meet Indians in the diaspora and visit the University of Nairobi.

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