OREANDA-NEWS. President Kenyatta's meeting with representative of Russian business circles which took place at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation was attended by the Chamber's Vice President Georgy Petrov, Kenya's Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department of African Affairs Sergey Kryukov, and Kenya's Ambassador to Russia Paul K. Kurgat.

During his opening speech Georgy Petrov described Mr.Kenyatta's visit to Russia as an event of tremendous importance given that the year 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Russia and Kenya.

According to Georgy Petrov, trade between Russia and Kenya is still below its potential - in 2012 it amounted to a mere \\$300 million. Even though Kenyan-made goods, first of all, tea, coffee and flowers, have already acquired widespread popularity and are much in demand in Russia, there is a vast potential for cooperation in other areas, including energy, tourism and agriculture. A number of Russian companies operating in Kenya deal with the supply of medical equipment and cars, and organize training of African students in Russia. JSC Russian Railways is looking into the possibility of supporting the development of Kenya's railway infrastructure under the government's program.

A total of 8,000 Russian tourists visited Kenya in 2012. In the opinion of Georgy Petrov, this became possible thanks to regular air flights to Kenya and easy visas. The governments of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are planning to introduce a common visa space on January 1st 2014. These plans could also spur the development of tourism, the vice president of the Russian Chamber of Commerce said.

Georgy Petrov reminded those present about the Coordinating Committee on Economic Cooperation with African Countries to the South of the Sahara which has been working under the aegis of the Russian Chamber of Commerce. At present, the Committee embraces more than 120 Russian companies that are already operating on the African continent or planning to enter the African market.

During his address to the participants in the meeting Sergey Kryukov described Kenya as Russia's “reliable and progressive-minded partner”. Business ties between Russia and Kenya have stepped up in recent years with bilateral business forums taking place in Nairobi and St.Petersburg, the head of the Department of African Affairs said.

In his turn, Paul K. Kurgat underscored that while Russia is returning to Kenya, Kenya is returning to Russia. The previous visit by a Kenyan head of state to Russia took place in the 1920s. This means that the Kenyan leader's current visit is taking place for the first time in 50 years of diplomatic relations.

While addressing the audience, President Uhuru Kenyatta informed the Russian participants about the current economic situation in Kenya and his government's plans for the future. The reforms currently under way in Kenya are aimed at improving the business climate and attracting foreign investors. Being a member of several sub-regional associations, Kenya could be used to secure access to other markets of East Africa, whose population amounts to more than 400 million, the president said.

The main goal of the Strategy-2030 for Kenya elaborated by the country's government is to turn Kenya into a competitive economy, Uhuru Kenyatta said. It's now that Kenya is experiencing an acute need for foreign investments. Given that agriculture remains the principal sector of the Kenyan economy, food security is acquiring primary importance. Kenya is interested in purchasing Russian mineral fertilizers, also through opening joint ventures on the territory of Kenya. The country needs 500,000 tons of mineral fertilizers a year.

Kenya invites Russian businesses to cooperate in a number of areas, including high technology, tourism, and the oil industry, and to participate in projects on creating port and road infrastructure. Russia tops the list of Kenya's tea importing partners. Kenya is ready to supply the Russian market with high-quality products, the president said. In addition, it makes sense to organize a direct supply of Kenyan flowers to Russia, rather than import them via Dutch auctioneers, as is the case now.

Kenya is taking part in major international projects, one of which provides for the creation of a trans-African transport grid, Uhuru Kenyatta said. This project envisages the construction of a large number of infrastructure facilities, including ports, railways, roads etc.

The program of the meeting featured presentations of Russian companies, including the Group of Companies EFESk, LLC, whose leaders reported on the implementation of the Russian-Kenyan project “Smart Networks”, and the Russian Research Institute “Agropribor”, JSC, which came up with a proposal concerning research and development cooperation on cutting-edge agricultural technologies.

Kenya's president signed the Russian Chamber of Commerce's Visitor Book at the end of the meeting.