0826 GMT December 11, 2018
Iran's Vice President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari was in Uganda and Kenya last week to explore business opportunities and boost bilateral trade ties tagging along government and business executives including those from petrochemicals.
On Tuesday, Sattari met Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala, where he said Tehran is trying to diversify its exports to the region.
The Iranian official's visit comes a year after Iran's Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif toured the region as the country tried to shake off the sanctions and seek new opportunities outside oil.
"Globally we are known for our oil and gas but we are now trying to move away from an oil-based and dependent economy into a technology driven one and we believe the region offers us great opportunities to do this," Sattari said, adding that Tehran was ready to offer the region expertise in technology.
The visit to the region comes a month before the United States sanctions on Tehran's oil and gas products come into effects, cutting off its exports to the world as Washington pushes for its isolation.
"We are happy to have a relationship with Iran, an influential partner that has over the years showed its resilience despite sanctions," President Museveni said.
The East African country understands that Tehran has been keen to fund Kampala's Kiira Electronic Vehicle Project, which its Cabinet approved in mid-April.
Iran is also said to be interested in securing rights to the mining of the niobium mineral — a key component in the manufacture of car batteries — as well as to provide gas technical assistance with the country.
According to S&P Global, a New York-headquartered financial information and analytics firm, Tehran LPG exports in August were at close to 600,000 metric tons with the bulk going to China.
Kenya and Tanzania lead the region as big importers of bitumen from Iran, with 60 percent of the product being used in Kenya coming from Tehran.
Other products the region imports include industrial oils, urea, paraffin and fermented black tea. Kenya also boasts of more than 37 Iranian firms that have set up shop in the country.
Sattari also met Kenya's top leadership and senior government officials after he arrived in Nairobi on Thursday evening.
In Nairobi, the delegation, through the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also held the Kenya-Iran Business Forum. '"