Between 1942–1944, 18,000 Polish refugees arrived to the Kenyan port city of Mombasa. The refugees were part of a larger exodus of between 320,000 to a million Polish evacuees who were forced out of Poland by the Soviet Union during World War II and sent to the eastern parts of the Soviet Union and Siberia. With the assistance of Anders' Army, approximately 110,000 Polish evacuees left the Soviet Union to Persia and 18,000 of those refugees were sent to East Africa.
Once the Polish refugees arrived to Mombasa, many were sent to nearby British territories of Rhodesia, Tanzania and Uganda. Of the refugees who stayed in Kenya, they were sent to settlement camps in Makindu, Manira, Nairobi, Nyali and Rongai. The refugees would remain in Kenya until 1949 when many were resettled to Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
In 1945, Poland regained its independence after the war. On 12 December 1963, Kenya obtained its independence from the United Kingdom and on 13 December 1963, Poland recognized and established diplomatic relations with Kenya. In 1964, Poland opened a resident embassy in Nairobi.
Initially, relations between both nations were mainly administered in multilateral forums such as at the United Nations. Soon after the establishment of diplomatic relations, several hundred Kenyan nationals would travel to Poland to study at Polish universities on government scholarships. In June 2014, both nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding to increase trade. Since 2016, Kenya has been one of Poland's main priorities in development aid assistance.
High-level visits from Kenya to Poland
- Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka (1995)
- Trade Minister Mukhisa Kituyi (2004)
- Deputy Foreign Minister Richard Momoima Onyonka (2010)
High-level visits from Poland to Kenya
- Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski (1993)
- Foreign Undersecretary Bogusław Zaleski (2002)
- Foreign Minister Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz (2004)
- Foreign Undersecretary Witold Waszczykowski (2007)
- Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski (2009)
- Foreign Undersecretary Grażyna Bernatowicz (2010)
There are direct seasonal flights between Mombasa and Warsaw with LOT Polish Airlines.
In October 2014 the East African Community (which includes Kenya) and the European Union (which included Poland) finalized a free trade agreement. The free trade agreement has not yet come into force. In 2015, trade between Kenya and Poland totaled $109.8 million USD. Kenya's exports to Poland include: tea, canned pineapples, cut flowers, coffee, fish, and sisal bags. Poland's exports to Kenya include: textiles, machinery, electronics and vehicles. In 2017 Poland opened a trade office in Nairobi.
Resident diplomatic missions
- Kenya is accredited to Poland from its embassy in Rome, Italy.
- Poland has an embassy in Nairobi.
- How East Africa became home for Polish exiles
- Diplomatic relations between Poland and Kenya (in Polish)
- Kenya, Poland ready for more business
- Polish FM delivers speech on foreign policy tasks in 2018
- EU / East African Community (EAC) free trade agreement
- Poland opens Nairobi trade office to scout for deals
- Enhancing ties between Africa and Eastern European countries
- Embassy of Kenya in Rome
- Embassy of Poland in Nairobi