Rekindling Russia-Kenya mutual co-operation

Friday, June 12th, 2020 00:00 |
Russia-Kenya relations. Photo/Courtesy

Dmitry Maksimychev

Today, we celebrate Russia Day – National Holiday of the Russian Federation. Because of Covid-19 pandemic, this we will commemorate it privately, in line with the quarantine regulations.

But, of course, we will find a way to celebrate it properly with our Kenyan friends when the epidemic is over. 

In his statement at the First Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi last October, President Uhuru Kenyatta stressed the necessity to rekindle Russian-African friendship.

This idea could not be more timely and true. Indeed, currently, there is a strong mutual desire on the part of both our countries and peoples to reinvigorate and take to the next level the cooperation that greatly benefits Russians and Kenyans. 

It is particularly pertinent in the current trying times of Covid-19 pandemic when global solidarity and cooperation are needed to face the common enemy.

Within that mindset, the Russian Federation, in spite of having to combat the peak of the dreaded epidemic at home, found the will to extend a helping hand to our friends and partners abroad, including in Africa.

I would say that it is the continuation of a great tradition of development cooperation that my country has consistently pursued throughout its modern history. 

Many in Africa, including Kenya, will remember massive development assistance projects that enabled newly independent states of the continent to lay the foundations of their national economies, the many thousands of young people who received high-quality training in medicine, engineering, law, history,among other fields, to form the cadre of their own national intelligentsia to serve their peoples.

We continue this line even today. Every tenth doctor in Kenya has been trained in Russia.

The Jaramogi Oginga Odinga training and referral hospital in Kisumu that was built, fully equipped and staffed by the Soviet Union and remains one of the best medical institutions in Kenya. 

Over the last few months, the Russian government has announced over Sh400 million in voluntary contributions to the United Nations to specifically assist Kenya in addressing food security and the challenge of locust invasion.

In response to the UN 2020 Emergency Appeal, we are also contemplating additional measures, including in the health sector, to support the Kenyans in this difficult period together with UN Country Team in Kenya.

When, on this National Day of the Russian Federation, I look at the development of our mutually beneficial ties, I feel proud to see a very positive dynamic in our relations.

The historic meeting between President Vladimir Putin and President Kenyatta in Sochi has opened a new chapter in our cooperation.

Our political dialogue has been strengthened, visits by high-level delegations were exchanged, and a number of important intergovernmental agreements prepared for signing. Our trade is faring well. Russia is one of the biggest buyers of the Kenyan tea.

Russian and Kenyan business communities have established direct communication to explore new avenues for trade and cooperation.

As President Putin pointed out in the conversation with President Kenyatta, what is most important is the direct involvement and empowerment of the private sectors of both economies as key players in development, while the governments create enabling conditions them.

As great enthusiasts of protection of nature, Russia greatly appreciates and supports the role Kenya is playing as the host to the only United Nations capital in the Global South —UNEP and UN-HABITAT.

We also recognises Kenya’s role in the global efforts to protect the environment, especially in wildlife conservation and management of plastics waste.

This year is in many senses special. It is the year of the 75th anniversary of the victory in the war against Nazism in WWII, which changed the course of human history, paved the way for the creation of the United Nations, and enabled the dismantlement of the colonial system.

We, Russians, are proud to have made a decisive contribution to all these historic developments.

It was on the initiative of the Soviet Union that in 1960 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples that outlawed colonialism forever and opened the way for millions of people around the world to pursue their own freedom and development.

In conclusion, I would like to assure the Kenyan public that the Russian Embassy will spare no effort to take forward the multifaceted cooperation between our two countries.  —The writer is the Russian Ambassador to Kenya

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