Ambassador Godec Op-Ed on President Kenyatta’s Visit to Washington, D.C.
The recent White House meeting between President Donald Trump and President Uhuru Kenyatta raised U.S.-Kenya bilateral relations to new heights, advancing our shared commitment to prosperity, security, and good governance. A highlight of the visit was the launch of our new Strategic Partnership, which will benefit the people of both countries.
The U.S.-Kenya friendship extends beyond our 55 years of diplomatic relations. Each day, thousands of Kenyans study, work, tour, and do business in America. And, each day, thousands of Americans do the same in Kenya. Our relations are business-to-business, university-to-university, NGO-to-NGO, and people-to-people.
The new Strategic Partnership builds on these historic and personal connections to make our nations stronger and our citizens more prosperous. To realize the benefits of the partnership, we will hold an annual high-level dialogue to accelerate our cooperation and create new opportunities.
Direct flights between Nairobi and New York City will facilitate these stronger ties, and ease business links and investment, academic exchanges, and family visits. Airplanes don’t just carry cargo, they carry people and their ideas, energy, and creativity.
During President Kenyatta’s visit, we also concluded KSH 85 billion in commercial deals and engagements with the public and private sector, which will help increase our KSH 100 billion annual bilateral trade. We established a U.S.-Kenya Trade and Investment Working Group to deepen our trade partnership and add to the success of 18 years of trade expansion under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Doing business with American companies means quality, transparency, accountability, and fairness for employees, investors, and customers.
The commercial deals announced included plans for a KSH 50 billion project to develop a nationwide digital information and communications infrastructure for the Kenyan Government, with American companies providing technology and expertise. This will be the first project under the U.S.-Kenya Memorandum of Understanding signed during the June visit of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa. Other announcements included Boeing’s KSH 4.6 billion deal with Kenya Airways to provide spare parts and servicing, Kenya Komposites’ KSH 1.5 billion investment to establish a manufacturing facility in Kenya for housing and infrastructure construction materials, and Kentegra’s KSH 400 million investment to revitalize Kenya’s pyrethrum sector, increasing incomes for up to 20,000 farmers.
In addition, we announced three investments by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to support food security (KSH 500 million loan to Twiga Foods), affordable housing (KSH 5 billion loan to Acorn Housing), and renewable energy (KSH 23.3 billion loan to Kipeto Energy) in Kenya. President Kenyatta’s successful meeting with the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) further opened the door for trade and investment.
As democracies committed to free and open society, Kenya and the United States are leaders in supporting peace and security in the region. Kenya’s role in the fight against terrorism is critical to combatting al-Shabaab and ISIS and the United States recognizes the sacrifices Kenya has made to keep the region safe from terrorists. We welcomed Kenya as the newest member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. President Trump and President Kenyatta pledged to deepen our security cooperation and we will enhance our support for the Kenya Defence Forces. Recently, we have provided over KSH 25 billion in boats, helicopters, and airplanes, as well as training and information, to support the KDF. We are a steadfast partner with Kenya in the fight against terror and extremism.
We will continue to work closely with Kenya in a wide range of other areas, including health care, education, and agriculture. We strongly support President Kenyatta’s efforts to increase accountability, transparency, and build institutions. We are committed to helping Kenyans win the fight against corruption.
The United States will also strengthen Kenya’s disaster and crisis response capability by sharing expertise and helping improve Kenyan capacity. We will work with Kenya to prevent and respond to natural and man-made disasters.
The relationship between the United States and Kenya is built on shared values and a commitment to true partnership. As President Kenyatta’s meeting with President Trump demonstrated, together we can build a better, more prosperous world for both Kenyans and Americans.