Kenya signs deals with Indonesia on President Widodo visit

Tuesday August 22 2023

Minister for Energy & Mineral Resources of Republic of Indonesia Arifin Tasrif (L) and Cabinet Secretary in charge of Energy and Petroleum Davis Chirchir (R) during the signing of MoU after bilateral talks between the two countries at State House Nairobi, Kenya on Monday, August 21, 2023. With them is Indonesian President Joko Widodo (L) and President Dr William Ruto. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG


Kenya has signed a deal with Indonesia to manufacture and distribute medicines and vaccines as the country revamps its pharmaceutical industry, alongside six deals on food security, mining and renewable energy.

The deals, which followed bilateral talks between President William Ruto and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, will see Kenya’s Biovax and Indonesia’s BioFarma collaborate to produce vaccines and other pharmaceutical products to enable easy access between the two countries.

In a health memorandum of understanding (MoU), the two firms will explore the marketing of the vaccine portfolio to be manufactured by BioFarma in Kenya.

Read: Kenya to woo vaccine firms with tax offer

According to the Health Ministry, the government has invested up to Ksh2 billion ($13.85 million) in the Biovax project whose focus is to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines and other jabs.

The latest development comes as the Kenyan government pushes for local manufacture of health products to cut excessive importation and create jobs.


“It is time for us to work collaboratively, and bring on board the private sector to ensure that we develop a capacity to produce vaccines and other pharmaceutical products for our countries. We should never find ourselves in the place where we did when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, where we didn’t have facilities to produce our own vaccines,” said President Ruto.

The Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board and the Indonesia Food and Drug Authority also signed an MoU to boost regulatory cooperation in pharmaceutical products.

“Kenya is open for business. An important step in this direction must continue to be the easing and gradual removal of visa restrictions between our two nations. For our part, Kenya has decided to extend visa-free entry not only to diplomatic passport holders,” said Dr Ruto.

Read: Ruto pursues ‘new partnerships’ with US investors

The two countries also signed a cooperation agreement in mining and geology, including joint studies, knowledge-sharing and capacity building.

The two countries also discussed trade and investment, cooperation in higher and basic education.

“To entrench business-to-business relations that are the lifeblood of thriving inter-state cooperation, six other MoUs were signed between our trade facilitation institutions during this visit in the following sectors: oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, edible oils, agriculture including livestock exports and garment manufacturing,” said President Ruto.

The President also revealed that Nairobi and Jakarta are finalising details of a possible preferential trade agreement.

“We also discussed the importance of concluding a bilateral investment treaty that will provide a stable and predictable investment environment, which is a prerequisite for accelerated private sector investment. We have tasked our joint teams to complete the drafting of this instrument within the next 90 days,” he said.

Indonesia enjoys a positive trade balance with Kenya, with the Southeast Asian country set to export $580 million (Ksh83.75 billion) worth of goods to Nairobi by 2021, with palm oil as the main export.

Read: Indonesia ban on palm oil export to affect cooking oil cost

The country's exports to Kenya, which include hot-rolled iron bars and stearic acid, have grown at an annualised rate of 14.5 per cent over the past 26 years as local demand for cooking oil continues to rise.

Following the bilateral talks, government officials launched the 'Mama Pima' edible oil project in Nairobi. The project is a partnership between the Kenyan and Indonesian governments and aims to provide ATMs for cooking oil to traders who will sell the product at low prices to consumers.