NAIROBI, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Kenya and Slovakia will sign an agreement on nuclear cooperation by the end of January 2013, a visiting Slovakia government official said on Tuesday.
Slovakia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs State Secretary Peter Burian told Xinhua that both nations have already exchanged a draft Memorandum of Understanding.
"Kenya's ministries of energy and higher education will sign an agreement with their Slovakian counterparts on nuclear cooperation by the end of January next year," Burian said on the sidelines of the Slovak Development Aid Forum.
The two-day forum brought together all Slovakian Non Governmental Organizations working in Kenya in order to discuss ways of increasing their efficiency and coordination in order to meet the needs of the country's long term development goals.
The deal follows the agreement signed by both nations in December 2011 on increasing cultural exchange cooperation. "Under the agreement, Kenya will receive technical assistance to develop nuclear energy in order to cater for its electricity needs," he said.
Burian added that by September 2013, the first batch of Kenyans to be trained in nuclear science will arrive in Slovakia. He added Kenya's nuclear project committee already visited Slovakia two times in the past two months.
"It typically takes a country at least 30 years to develop the capacity to generate nuclear power but with fast tracking it could take Kenya at least 15 years," he said.
Kenya's Assistant Minister of Higher Education Dr. Kilema Mwiria said that under the agreement, Slovakia will train up to 10 Kenyans annually on nuclear science.
"This is part of government plans to have a large pool of nuclear scientists who can help develop and manage nuclear power plants," he said.
He said that currently, Kenya lacks the capacity to train nuclear scientists locally as the country's universities are not advanced.
Slovakia's Ambassador to Kenya Michel Mlynar said Kenya is among the priority countries for Slovak's Official Development Aid (ODA), along with Afghanistan. Mlynar said most of the projects are in the health, education and agricultural sectors.
"Currently, 14 development projects are being supported through small financial grants financed by Slovak Aid with a total value of 3.2 million euros," he said.
"Even though we are a small donor with fairly limited budgets, we are strongly committed to providing long term assistance to Kenya," he added.
Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Richard Onyonka said both nations will continue high level exchanges in the future in order to strengthen the strong ties that already exist between the two countries.
He noted five high-ranking government officials visited Slovakia in the past year compared to three visits between 1993 and 2011. He said statistics on economic and trade interactions remain low and in favor of the Slovak republic.
Data from the ministry of foreign affairs indicated Kenya's exports amounted to 110,000 U.S. dollars to Slovakia in 2011, while imports reached 5.89 million dollars in the same period.
The government records also showed Kenyan exports included ornamental carvings, furniture and textile products while imports consisted of paper products, pharmaceuticals, iron and steel and rubber products.
"However, there exists great potential to improve the volume and value of trade through structured consultations between Slovak and Kenyan entrepreneurs, including engagements with the Slovak Investment and Trade Development Agency and the Kenya Investments Agency," Onyonka said.
"There also exists opportunities for Slovak investors in the areas of information technology, agriculture, automotive assembly, infrastructure development, waste management, agriculture, energy production," he said.
He called on the Slovaks to consider investing in the Lamu- South Sudan-Ethiopia project. The government official commended Slovakia's continued support through the European Union to restore stability in Somalia.