Skip to main content

Iran in quest for foothold in Africa as Raisi sets out for landmark visits 

The Iranian delegation looks to sign agreements in Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, looking also on the horizon to engage in a tight race with such foreign investors as China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi attends the signing of bilateral agreements ceremony at the Revolution Palace in Havana on June 15, 2023.

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi embarks today at the helm of a large delegation to three African nations as his administration pursues "diverse" and "balanced" relations in its foreign policy agenda, the state-run Tasnim news agency reported on Tuesday. 

The first leg of the tour will take Raisi to Kenya early Wednesday for the signing of bilateral agreements. He will depart for Uganda and Zimbabwe afterward to complete the three-day tour. 

The trip marks the first by an Iranian president in over a decade. Raisi's predecessor, moderate Hassan Rouhani, did not visit a single African nation during his two-term tenure, drawing fire from the sitting conservative administration for "shunning" the continent and focusing "excessively" on mending ties with Western adversaries.  

While Iran's relations with African countries were "nearly frozen" during Rouhani's eight years, as a leading state-run news agency wrote, the Raisi administration managed to double the volume of trade with Africa, according to statistics by the Iran-Africa Traders Association.  

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.