The Korea Trade Fair

By Bhavisha Patel

The Kenyan chapter of the 2018 Korean trade fair was organized by the Korea Trade Promotion Agency (KOTRA). There was more to it than being a business to business meetings affair (B2B). A number of MoUs were signed and it was much fun going by the many interactive cultural experiences it gave. The fair was held at the Village Market, Nairobi on the 23rd and 24th of November 2018. It was of grand scale with 41 participating companies, 31 of which were Korean.

To officially begin the trade fair students from King Sejong Institute, Kenyatta University performed the Samuli nori , a traditional form of Korean music. The first day focused on business to business meetings. A special IT room was set up to aid in video conferencing. These meetings ran for two days. There was also a Korean cultural showcase on the first day with various K-Pop dance performances by students from the Korean language department, University of Nairobi and King Sejong Institute, Kenyatta University. There was also an act from Professional dancers who happened to be K-pop fans. A Korean speech competition was held in the morning hours too.

In the afternoons, there were various talk shows by the represented companies concerning their products. Some of these were Emcast, dot  and connect coffee Roasters. The sessions were followed by a short Q&A session, with the audience voicing opinions and asking about the products. A fun noodle eating contest was also held to entertain and involve the audience. The noodles were Korean ‘ramyon.’ Well, the first day focused on IT and food, whereas the second day focused on beauty presentations. Some of these beauty companies were Sistar  and Moretu lipsticks.

The business to business meetings proved successful. Also, the high attendance of people created a great interactive platform for companies and consumers. A lot of Kenyans were able to learn more about Korean products and Korean culture.

KOTRA’s main objective in hosting the trade fair was to market Korean products in the Kenyan market, and also link Kenyans and Korean businessmen/companies. The business to business meetings contributed to this and lead to signing of more MoUs.

The future plan is to hold trade fairs with more products available for sale and not just to exhibit. They also hope to introduce more products to Kenya and develop more trading links between Kenya and Korea.

Photos: Courtesy of KOTRA, Nairobi.





Kenya’s Roadmap to Innovation

By Amb. Ngovi Kitau

Amb. Ngovi Kitau with Prof. SHIN Sung-Chul, President of KAIST.

The future for Korea and Kenya is very bright. Feb.12 was the greatest and happiest day since Kenya and Korea established diplomatic relations on Feb. 7, 1964. The successful kickoff ceremony for the Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, (Kenya KAIST), which is being developed by a Korean consortium; and the signing of a certificate of commencement, which took place at the Konza Technopolis, is a historic breakthrough and fulfillment of a dream which started 10 years ago. It was reinforced by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of Kenya and the Government of South Korea on May 31st, 2016 during the visit to Kenya by the then President Ms. Park Guen Hye.

High-level delegations from government, academia and the private sector from both Korea and Kenya, with the Korean KAIST-Samoo-Sunjin consortium taking the lead, were present to witness the dream come true.

The Korean side sent seven delegations starting with one from the Korean KAIST led by President Shin Sung-chul, and Dr. Chung Kun-mo, a project advisory board chairman and the nuclear scientist who started the Korean KAIST, benchmarked on U.S MIT in 1971. Others were from the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Nairobi, led by Ambassador Choi Yeong-han; Korea Eximbank; KOTRA; Samoo Architects & Engineers; Sunjin Engineering & Architecture; and Korean expatriates in Nairobi.

Kenyan government ministries and agencies were led by Professor Collette A. Suda, Chief Administrative Secretary and Principal secretary of the state department for university education and research, who was also the chief guest. Others included, the project implementation team; universities; the Kenya architectural sector; the Konza Technopolis development authority led by chairman Dr. Mutiso and CEO Eng. Tanui; and regional congressmen led by Adeline Mwau, the deputy governor of Makueni County.

The envisioned Kenya KAIST is a world-class science and technology research university. It is a very crucial institution, whose benefits will accrue, not only to Kenya, but the entire African continent.

Notwithstanding the above, let me highlight some very important benefits of KAIST to both Kenya and Korea. One, It will guide us, in our future together, as Kenya embarks, on a knowledge-based economy, and Korea pursues new markets in frontier and emerging markets.

Secondly, by conducting pertinent research that will attract FDI to Kenya, led by Korean companies, KAIST will also provide a bulwark against Chinese global initiatives, such as Made in China 2025 and AI 2030.

As Kenya enplanes innovation-led growth, leapfrogging on Korea’s highly valued experience and advanced technology, KAIST will be a linchpin, in this endeavor, and process; and the upshot will further elevate and strengthen the longstanding friendship and the flourishing partnership between Kenya and South Korea.

There is no doubt that Kenya KAIST will transform the Kenyan economy. However its sustainability will depend on funding. Prof. Shin Sung-chul informed me that the Korean KAIST has three revenue streams namely: the Korean government (25 percent), donations (35 percent) and industrial-academic collaboration (40 percent). This “triple-helix” model of technology transfer with three actors ― university, industry and government ― all playing indispensable and irreplaceable roles in the national system of innovation, has worked very well worldwide, and will work even better for Kenya KAIST, supported by industrial-academic collaboration from Korean chaebol and SMEs.

There are many Korean industries facing domestic challenges which can immediately team up with Kenyan KAIST to open new markets in Africa. One such industry is the auto industry which is lagging behind global rivals. It has even been overtaken by emerging countries like India and Mexico. It registered its third consecutive year of decline, last year, and was the only country to have declined among the top 10 countries. Now is the time for Korea to enter expanding and profitable markets in Africa.

In conclusion, this is the time to hold hands together and say “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” Let Korean companies team up with the Kenya KAIST to create either autonomous, co-owned, or regional technology holding companies, as well as affiliated companies, for mutual benefit and prosperity.

The writer ( is Kenya’s first Ambassador to the Republic of Korea (2009-2014).

Korea Trade Investment Agency, Nairobi

What does KOTRA do?

 코트라는 Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency의 약자로서, 한국 기업들이 세계 각지에 진출하여 수출을 장려하고, 성공적인 투자를 할 수 있도록 돕고, 반대로 세계 각지에서 한국에 수출을 돕고 투자를 장려하는 정부 기관입니다. 코트라는 1962년부터 한국 산업통상부 산하에서 설립되어 현재 세계 각지 123개국에 해외 무역관을 운영하고 있습니다. 1950년 한국전쟁으로 폐허 뿐인 한국을 세계 6위의 수출대국으로 견인하는 역할을 해왔습니다.

 KOTRA stands for Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. It is a government agency that helps Korean companies enter the world to export, make successful investments, and encourage investments into Korea from all over the world. KOTRA was established in 1962 under the Republic of Korea’s ministry of Industry and Trade and currently operates overseas, with trade centers in 123 countries around the world. This has contributed to Korea’s great economic transition from the old Korea that suffered the 1950 Korean War into the sixth largest exporter in the world.


2. How has KOTRA impacted the trade and investment relations between Kenya and Korea so far?

 코트라가 케냐와 한국사이에 교역, 투자에 어떤 점에서 영향을 미쳣냐

코트라 나이로비는 기본적으로 교역과 투자를 돕는 회사이다. 다시말해, 매치메이킹을 전문적으로 하는 기업인 것이다. 대기업 진출을 돕기도 하지만, 우리 무역관은 좀더 한국의 중소기업들의 케냐 진출에 집중하고 있다. 코트라 나이로비는 아프리카 해외무역관을 통틀어서 가장 실적이 좋은 무역관이다. 구체적인 실적을 공개하기는 어렵지만, 해외시장조사, 해외사절단, 해외출장지원, 수출상담회 등 2015년에는 100건 이상의 실적을 올렸고, 2016년에는 200건 이상의 실적을 달성하였다.

 KOTRA Nairobi is basically a trading and investment agency. In other words, it is a company that specializes in matchmaking. While helping to advance large corporations, we are focusing more on Korean SMEs’ entry into Kenya. KOTRA Nairobi is the best performing trade center in Africa. Although it is difficult to disclose specific results, it achieved more than 100 sales in 2015 and more than 200 in 2016, including overseas market research, overseas delegation, overseas business trip support and export consultation.


3. Of what significance did the Korean President’s visit to Kenya have on the bilateral trade & investment relations between Kenya & S. Korea? What role did  you play as an organization?

박근혜가 왔을 때 어떤 일들이 케냐간의 교역에 어떤 영향을 미쳤는가? 그리고 그사이 코트라는 어떤 일을 하였는가

2016년 5월에 박근혜 전대통령과 함께 우리나라 무역사절단 40개 기업이 케냐를 방문하였다. 우리는 이 기업이 케냐 시장에 진출하고, 케냐 기업들이 한국으로부터 좋은 제품과 정보를 얻어갈 수 있도록 코트라가 200여건에 달하는 수출 상담회를 주선하였다. 이 때 온 사절단의 성과가 상당히 좋아서 한번에 그치지 않고 후속 상담회를 위해 ‘아프리카민관합동사절단’23개 기업들이 한국에서 케냐로 2016년 11월에 한번 더 왔었다. 이 때도 100여건이 넘는 수출상담회를 코트라가 주선하였다.

 In May 2016, the former President Ms. Park GeunHye together with 40 Korean trade delegations came to Kenya. So far we have organized over 200 export consultations for those companies to enter the Kenyan market and allowed Kenya companies to get good products and information from Korea. At this time, the success rate of the delegations has been remarkable. In November 2016, twenty three Korean companies from the ‘African Private-Public Joint Delegation’ came to Kenya for a follow-up meeting. More than 100 export consultations were organized by KOTRA.


4. In helping Korean companies and SMEs to set shop in Kenya, what exactly does KOTRA do? Does it help investors to obtain licenses, anything along those lines?

케냐에 한국기업이 지사를 낼 때 코트라가 정확하게 어떤 절차들을 돕는가? 라이선스라도 취득할 수 있게 도움을 주는 것인가?

케냐 내에서 기업을 운영하기 위해 필요한 라이선스가 여러가지 있는데, 그것은 케냐 정부에서 하는 것이지 코트라가 직접 관여할 수는 없다. 우리는 한국 기업이 이 과정에서 필요한 정보와 노하우를 제공할 뿐이다. 우리가 중점적으로 돕는 절차는 한국과 케냐 사이에서 수출 및 수입이 일어 날 수 있도록 바이어와 셀러를 연결해주는 역할을 하는 것이다. 물론 코트라는 케냐에서는 대사관 상무부 소속이기 때문에, 케냐 바이어가 한국 들어가서 교역을 하기 위해 필요한 비자업무나 행정절차는 코트라가 진행하고 있다.

 There are a number of licenses required to run a business in Kenya which are issued by the Kenyan government, not KOTRA. We only provide information and know-how that the companies would need in this process. The process we chiefly focus on is to connect buyers and sellers so that the exportation and import can take place between Korea and Kenya. Also, since KOTRA belongs to the Korean Embassy’s Department of Commerce in Kenya, KOTRA proceeds with visa matters and administrative procedures necessary for Kenya buyers to enter and trade in Korea.

Korea’s Ex-President visit to Kenya in 2016


5. Revisiting the Korean President’s visit to Kenya last year, a number of MoUs were signed. About 20 in total. These included pacts on Nuclear energy and electricity generation, building of an industrial complex, E-government cooperation, KAIST, Korea-Kenya Government cooperation center (for 3 years), a commitment to KONZA city and a few more.

박근혜가 작년에 재방문 하였을 때, 20개기업이 양해각서를 체결하고 돌아갔다. 거기엔 핵개발, 산업단지 조성, E-govern 만들기, 카이스트, 콘자 시티 등이 있다

-Where are we at now?

지금 이 산업들이 어떻게 진행되어가는가

2017년 4월부터 위의 사업에 전담 직원이 새로 배치되어 후속조치를 하고있다. 아직까지 뚜렷할 만한 성과는 내보이지 못한 것은 사실이나, 대한민국 정부가 주두한 사업인 만큼 KOTRA 한국 본사에서도 상당히 관심을 가지고 팔로우 업을 하고 있다. 특히 케냐 정부는 산업단지 조성에 관심을 보이고 있는데, KOTRA는 지식 공유 프로그램인 KSP(Knowledge Sharing Program) 사업을 통해서 이를 체계적으로 지원하고 있다. 얼마전에 한국에서 연구진들이 케냐를 방문하여 2016/17년 산업 단지 조성을 위한 KSP 사업이 성공적으로 마무리 되었다. KOTRA는 2017/18년도 KSP 사업을 통해서 케냐의 경제 발전을 위해 긴밀하게 계속 협력해나갈 계획이다

From April 2017, a dedicated staff was assigned to do a follow up on the above projects. It is true that we have not seen clear results yet because it has been a short time since the signing happened. KOTRA HQ  has a great interest in following-up businesses as those businesses are centered by the Korean government. In particular, the Kenyan government is interested in creating an industrial complex and KOTRA systematically supports it through the Knowledge Sharing Program (KSP). Recently, the Korean researchers and delegates visited Kenya, and the KSP project for the industrial complex development in 2016/17 was completed successfully. KOTRA plans to continue closely cooperating with KSP in 2017/18 for the economic development of Kenya

6. Mention some of the annual business delegations that are held by KOTRA in a year both in Kenya and Korea

한해동안 케냐와 한국에서 진행되고 있고 있는 코트라 사절단 연간 사업에 대해서 말해달라

일단 한국 대구 경북 사절단, 전라도 사절단, 방산보안 사절단이 다녀갔다. 케냐-한국 화상 수출 상담회 1회를 진행하였다.

일단 2017년 하반기에는 선거기간 정치적 불안정성 때문에 더 이상의 사절단 방문은 계획되어있는 것은 없다.

 The projects, Kenya-Korea Export Conference and consultations for ‘Daegu Gyeongbuk Province Delegation’, ‘Jeolla Province Delegation’, ‘Defense Security Delegation’ have just been completed successfully. In the second half of 2017, there will not be any more delegation visits and projects due to the political instability in the election period.


7. Any challenges that KOTRA is facing in its line of work.

코트라가 일을 진행할 때 가장 힘들었던 점은 무엇인가요

코트라는 정부 산하 조직이다. 그렇기 때문에 다른 사기업들과 달리 우리 회사의 서비스를 받는 고객은 한국 국민 전체를 대상으로 한다. 그렇기 때문에 모든 상담에 친절하게 응대해야할 의무가 있다. 이것이 성과 평가에 상당한 영향을 미치기 때문에 자의반 타의반 친절을 다한다. 코트라의 많은 업무들보다 고객들을 친절하고 낮은 자세에서 응대하는 것이 사실 가장 어렵다.

 KOTRA is a government affiliate. Therefore, unlike other private companies, customers who receive our services comprise of the entire Korean people. Therefore, there is an obligation to respond kindly to all consultations. Since this has a considerable effect on the performance evaluation, we are expected to be the most  kindest of people. It is more difficult to give special attention to each customer, in a more friendly and fitting attitude because of the many tasks that we do.


Interview by Bhavisha Patel

Interviewee: Mr. Jang Jaewon- Rep. KOTRA Nairobi.