Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi started his tour of three African nations on the 12th of July 2023, making stops in Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe where he signed 22 MoUs in just one week. These and other bilateral agreements will now make Iran and the three African nations partners in trade.
Kenya – Iran
President Raisi made his first stop in Kenya on Wednesday, June 12 where he held talks with Kenya’s President William Ruto.
During their meeting, the two leaders witnessed the signing of new MoUs and agreements in the areas of agriculture, livestock, culture and heritage, information, ICT, fisheries, housing, and urban and metropolitan development.
Addressing the press at State House Nairobi after signing the agreements, President Ruto noted that Kenya will exploit the strong ties it enjoys with Iran to expand its trading activities. He added that the evolving trade relations between Iran and Kenya have the potential to grow.
President Ruto said that the two nations will strike a formula that increases Kenya’s exports of tea, coffee, and meat to Iran. He explained that Kenya also seeks to exploit Iran’s capacity in technology and innovation, as the two counties agreed to set up the Iran House of Innovation and Technology in Nairobi, which will offer the right platform for Iranian and Kenyan businesses.
“This is an innovative way of enabling enterprises to access Iranian technologies, skills and information,” Ruto said, adding that the initiative will be important in allowing the two nations entry into the respective regions.
Iranian firms are expected to establish operations in the country, paving their way to accessing EAC, COMESA, and AfCFTA markets of more than 1.4 billion people.
“The Kenya-Iran relations can always be strengthened for our benefit,” President Raisi said during a media briefing.
Uganda – Iran
After his Kenyan visit, President Raisi landed in Uganda where he also signed bilateral agreements with the Ugandan government to boost trade between the two countries. The two countries signed five MoUs on, for example, Agriculture and Foreign Affairs.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni welcomed Dr Raisi with the assurance of Uganda’s commitment to continuing the cooperation and the good relations that have existed between the two nations for years. He assured President Raisi of Uganda’s capacity in agriculture, adding that the challenge for Uganda has always been access to markets and that Iran’s cooperation comes in handy.
“We can do a lot of trade together. Iran has got experiences which we don’t have,” said President Museveni.
On the development of Uganda’s oil resources, Museveni thanked the Iranian President for standing with Uganda as the country embarked on the venture of constructing an oil refinery.
“We have some little oil here which we discovered a few years ago. I had some people discouraging us from building an oil refinery saying it’s not profitable,” noted President Museveni.
President Ebrahim Raisi welcomed Uganda’s commitment to further expand their bilateral relations, adding that Iran is open to engaging with friendly and aligned African countries in economic diplomacy and political relations. Dr. Raisi said Iran is ready to share experiences with Uganda in areas such as energy, oil production, and technology.
Zimbabwe – Iran
President Raisi made the last stop in Zimbabwe where he met with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare. The two leaders witnessed the signing of 12 MoUs to strengthen their countries’ bilateral ties. These include plans to improve and boost the manufacturing sector by creating a tractor manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe, which will be spearheaded by an Iranian company and a local partner.
Iran and Zimbabwe also signed cooperation agreements for energy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications, as well as agreements touching on research, science, and technology.
Speaking after the meeting, Zimbabwe’s President Emerson Mnangagwa welcomed the cooperation between the two countries, saying it is a step in the right direction.
“We welcome investments in several sectors of our economy,” Mnangagwa told reporters in Harare.
President Raisi also emphasized the commonality between Zimbabwe and Iran, given that both countries have US-imposed sanctions. Dr. Raisi said his country would work hard to forge closer economic ties with Zimbabwe.
Iran’s Foreign Affairs minister, Hossein Amir, had earlier hinted that the country’s trade with Africa will increase to more than $2 billion this year. President Raisi’s first African visit, eleven years since the last visit of an Iranian President, marks a turning point that will bolster Iran’s economic and trade ties with African nations.