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Narendra Modi praises Kenyan heroes, innovations

By Fred Makana | July 12th 2016
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday paid glowing tribute to Kenyan heroes and innovations.

He singled out Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai and Oscar award winner Lupita Nyong'o as some of those who have contributed immensely to Kenya's image.

Mr Modi did not leave out mobile phone money transfer service M-Pesa during his public lecture at the University of Nairobi, terming it a major innovation.

He said M-Pesa took the world by storm and many countries, including India, had since embraced it.

"The late Wangari's contribution in conserving the environment was a remarkable achievement for Kenya and Africa," Modi said.

He termed Lupita as an inspiration and an example that youth across the world should emulate.

"Kenya is a young country but M-Pesa made it stand out among the community of nations. This has inspired India and many businesses have adopted it as a banking service," the PM said.

Modi's first stop when he arrived at the university was the 60-year-old majestic statue of Mahatma Gandhi just a few metres from the Great Court.

"The statue of one of India's greatest heroes signifies the deep historical links between Kenya and India," noted the PM.

Modi also announced a grant of US$1 million (Sh101.3 million) for renovation of the Mahatma Gandhi Graduate Library at the university.

"The connection between Mahatma Gandhi and this fine university is among early bonds of partnership between our two great nations" he said.

Kenyan runners, the PM said, are also a source of inspiration to many across the world, as the country continues to dominate in athletics.

He also said UoN had showcased the shared history and similar experiences of India and Kenya.

"I'm happy to know over 7,000 enthusiasts celebrated this year's International Yoga Day at the university," he said.

Modi said Kenya and India were flourishing democracies but cautioned against extremism and radicalisation of the youth, which he said threatened the stability of the two countries.

"We must equally condemn those who give shelter to terrorists and use them as political instruments. Youths should play an important role in building a counter-narrative to extremist ideologies," he said.

The PM said there was need for Kenya and India to work together to counter terrorism and radicalisation by ensuring their sea borders were safe.

He also lauded ties between the two countries that have seen many Kenyans study in Indian universities.

"As Kenya marches towards her destiny, you will find in India a trusted and reliable partner," he said, adding India would also help develop the film industry.

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Kenya's railway history and its Indian roots
Indians provided the bulk of the workforce for the first railway built in Kenya, more than a century ago.