South Korean President Park Geun-Hye arrives in the country on Sunday in a renewed bid to expand business opportunities for Korean companies in the country.
Ms Park will be the first South Korean President to tour Nairobi since 1982, when the Cold War defined the Asian country’s foreign policy, even though Premier Kim Hwang-Sik visited Kenya in 2012.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the ideological differences based on the Soviet-US rivalry in the Korean Peninsula led to a diplomatic competition between North and South Korea for allies in Africa.
Today, much of South Korea’s foreign engagements are determined by business ambitions to support Korean firms, but how to handle its pariah neighbour North Korea is still part of Seoul’s global policy.
There is another connotation: When Kenya and South Korea established diplomatic relations in 1964, Jomo Kenyatta and Korea’s Park Chung-Hee were the respective leaders of their countries. Now, their children Uhuru Kenyatta and Park Geun-Hye are Presidents.
“That is a very wonderful story. We have great relations but there is potential to grow. That is why we strive to cultivate it through different areas,” Mr Young Dae Kwon, South Korea’s Ambassador to Kenya, told the Sunday Nation.
“Especially in the last 10 years, our trade volume rose 10 times and many Korean companies are now stationed in Kenya, doing business.”
Ms Park arrives on Sunday after starting a tour of three African countries from Ethiopia. She is also expected to tour Uganda where she would have met respective leaders of the three nations to discuss Korea’s overseas business expansion and secure cooperation to tame North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
In Kenya, she has a parked agenda which includes holding talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta later and launching the Korean Aid, a new agency to deal with international development assistance. An advance itinerary from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicates there will be a series of MoUs on “substantial cooperation” to be signed in areas of trade, investment, industries, and electric power development.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will land in Nairobi on Wednesday for a three-day official visit, fulfilling a promise he made early this year.
President Erdogan will arrive in the company of his wife Emine and top officials in his government alongside a host of prominent Turkish investors in their tour of Africa.
According to a document circulated within Kenya’s Foreign Affairs ministry, one of the items on the agenda for talks is about the investment opportunities available in Kenya for Turkish companies.
The talks will be held on Thursday between Mr Kenyatta and President Erdogan at State House, Nairobi.
They will also discuss regional peace and security cooperation as well as how to work together in the water, transport, defence, agriculture, education and health sectors.
The presidents will equally discuss cooperation and review the status of agreements that are yet to be finalised.
“Turkey-Kenya Business Forum is also envisioned to be held on the sidelines of the visit (on June 2 at KICC) to be graced by the two Heads of State during the opening session,” the document adds.