History of representation in Kenya

Kenya became independent from the Great Britain rule on December 12th 1963 and Finland recognized Kenya's independence on the following day. Finland and Kenya established their diplomatic relations on June 14th 1965. In the beginning of the 1960's, the economic outlook seemed favourable in East Africa and the founding of the OAU Head Quarters in Addis Ababa added to the attractiveness of the region.

The Commercial Secretary started his operations in Nairobi in August 1963. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs decided to widen/extend the missions to East Africa, either to Addis Ababa or Nairobi. It was decided to establish an Embassy in Addis Ababa, as it was the localtion for the OAU Head Quarters. Nairobi was accredited to Ethiopia until 1st of May 1974 when it became an Embassy led by a Charge d'Affairs under the Embassy in Ethiopia. Veikko Hietanen was the last Ambassador in Addis Ababa.

The first Finnish Ambassador to take residence in Nairobi in the spring of 1977 was Unto Tanskanen. The fact that the United Nations Environment Programme was stationed in Nairobi had a decisive influence on elevating Nairobi’s status.

The Minister for Roads, Mr. Pekka Tarjanne, started the high level visits between the two countries as he visited Kenya in 1973, and the next year the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ahti Karjalainen, followed suit. The first Kenyan to pay a state visit to Finland was the Minister for Finance, Mr. Mwai Kibaki, in 1975.

The founding of the Embassy in Nairobi soon appeared to be the right decision as in a short period of time, Nairobi developed into an internationally important conference city where World Bank and the World Council of Churches had their meetings.

Initially, an important part of the work of the Embassy concentrated on development cooperation. Development cooperation between Kenya and Finland began with the Nordic Cooperative project in the 1960's. The Skeleton (blanket) Agreement of Development Cooperation was signed in 1975, and in 1980, Kenya became the so-called development programme country of Finland. Subsequently, the donor support was growing fast from less than 10 million marks to 127, 5 million marks by 1991.

When selecting sectors and projects the two countries have attempted to adapt to the priority needs of Kenya and to the resources available in Finland. From the very beginning, it was decided to collaborate in the rural water and health care, rural dairy farming, forestry and wood industry and in rural energy management. The main emphasis in cooperation during all these years has been in rural development.

In the 1970's, Finland supported Kenya mainly through loans. Kenya was granted three development credits, which were changed to grants in 1979. The third 20 million mark development credit was granted in 1982. After this, the support has been mainly in form of grants.

The bilateral development cooperation between Finland and Kenya concentrated mainly on the sectors stipulated in the country development strategy of Kenya. The support has not only concentrated on particular sectors but also geographically. The biggest rural development projects have been carried out in Western Kenya.

When Mr. Matti Kääriäinen was accredited the Ambassador to Kenya, the silent era of development cooperation during the years 1998-2003 was over when no new programmes were started with the Government of Kenya. In the bilateral negotiations in 1994 the two countries decided to start anew to prepare bilateral projects. According to the present development policy of Finland, Kenya is one of the seven main recipient countries of Finland.

After Finland joined the EU, Finland has had the opportunity to influence the formation of the EU strategies of both Kenya and other accredited countries of the Embassy.


List of accredited Ambassadors to Kenya:

  • Henrik Blomstedt, (Nairobi/Addis Abeba) 1966-1969

  • Joel Pekuri, (Nairobi/Addis Abeba) 1969-1971

  • Veikko Hietanen, (Nairobi/Addis Abeba) 1973-1977

  • Unto Tanskanen, (Nairobi) 1977-1980

  • Raimo Salmi, (Nairobi) 1980-1983

  • Tom Grönberg, (Nairobi) 1983-1987

  • Ilkka Ristimäki, (Nairobi) 1987-1990

  • David Johansson, (Nairobi) 1990-1995

  • Glen Lindholm, (Nairobi) 1995-1998

  • Lauri Kangas, (Nairobi) 1998-2003

  • Matti Kääriäinen, (Nairobi) 2003-2007

  • Heli Sirve, (Nairobi) 2007-2011

  • Sofie From-Emmesberger, (Nairobi) 2011-2015

  • Tarja Fernández, (Nairobi) 2015- 2018

  • Erik Lundberg (Nairobi) 2018 -