New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Tuesday assured his Kenyan counterpart Aden Bare Duale of full support in capacity building as the visiting delegation evinced interest in a wide range of military products including India-made attack helicopters, and naval ships, ThePrint has learnt.
Giving a new impetus to the defence ties, Goa Shipyard Ltd and Kenya Shipyard Limited signed a Memorandum of Understanding for capacity building and for collaboration in ship design and construction, after Singh and Duale held delegation-level talks.
Duale will visit the Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) in Goa and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in Bengaluru during his three-day visit to India.
Sources in the Indian defence and security establishment told ThePrint that Kenya has sought a line of credit to help beef up its military. They added that Kenya is interested in buying armed light combat helicopter Prachand as well as small arms and artillery guns for its army.
For the Kenyan navy, the visiting minister is looking at possible collaboration in joint design and development of naval ships. As of now, there is no clarity about the class of naval ships that Kenya is considering for its navy.
The two ministers discussed capacity building and cooperation in defence industry and equipment. The meeting was a “testimony to the increasing depth in the India-Kenya defence partnership”, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement.
Both the ministers agreed that the defence ties had evolved from being “training-centric” to include more “strategic aspects”. “The two ministers also concurred on the need for deeper cooperation in maritime security of the Indian Ocean region,” the MoD statement said.
Further, Duale appreciated the growing “prowess” of the Indian defence industry while highlighting the areas in which it can support the requirements of the Kenyan forces.
He suggested ‘training of trainers’ of Kenyan forces by the instructors of Indian armed forces in order to maintain continuity and extract greater benefit out of such programmes.
The talks further come at a time when India has been taking efforts to deepen ties with several African countries, with a thrust on defence and security matters.
Lucknow hosted the first-ever India-Africa Defence Ministers’ Conclave at the DefExpo 2020, which focused on strengthening defence ties and bolstering the framework for military-to-military cooperation between India and African nations.
In April 2023, India extended a line of credit touching nearly $14 billion to 42 nations in the African Union held at India-Africa Army Chiefs’ Conclave in Pune.
While the two countries held the First Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC) meeting in February 2019 in India, the second JDCC was held on 8-9 November 2022 in Nairobi. This was followed by the first ever India-Kenya Defence Export Seminar on 10-11 November that year.
India’s exports of defence equipment have gone up in recent times, with the financial year 2022-2023 recording an ‘all-time high’ of Rs 16,000 crore as military items reached more than 85 countries.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
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