The United States and Kenya: Strategic Partners-Fact Sheet
“I look forward to deepening our cooperation to promote economic prosperity, security, human rights, and democracy in the region.”
– Secretary Antony J. Blinken, March 2, 2021
Secretary Antony J. Blinken will participate in a virtual visit to Kenya on April 27, where he will meet with President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Raychelle Omamo to discuss the partnership between the governments of the United States and Kenya. Areas for continued collaboration include advancing economic prosperity, defense cooperation, democracy and human rights, refugees, gender equality, regional stability and multilateral cooperation, public health, and climate change.
- The United States and Kenya established diplomatic relations in 1964. Our bilateral engagement has expanded greatly since Kenya returned to multiparty democracy in 1992.
- The United States and Kenya elevated our relationship to a strategic partnership in 2018 and held our first Bilateral Strategic Dialogue (BSD) in Washington, D.C. in 2019. The BSD is based on five pillars that underscore the breadth of our mutual interests across five areas: economic prosperity, defense, democracy and civilian security, multilateral and regional issues, and public health.
- U.S. foreign assistance to the Kenyan people in 2020 in support of our shared goals was over $560 million.
- The United States and Kenya have collaborated closely to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, reduce secondary economic impacts, and restrict non-essential travel across borders, while also addressing the economic challenges of reduced mobility.
- The United States has committed $2 billion to the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) to support COVID-19 vaccine procurement and distribution through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) program. In March 2021, Kenya received 1.02 million doses of the Astra Zeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX program.
- In 2020, the United States provided more than $23.3 million in overall health and humanitarian assistance for the COVID-19 response in Kenya.
Bilateral Economic Ties
- In July 2020, the United States and Kenya launched trade negotiations. The two sides are currently reviewing the negotiations before deciding next steps. The Kenyan economy currently benefits from participation in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
- The United States imported $568.9 million in goods from Kenya and exported $370.8 million of products to Kenya in 2020. Over the last decade, the United States and Kenya have exchanged over $1 billion in annual trade, while Kenyans receive over $1 billion annually in remittances from the diaspora in the United States.
U.S. Security Cooperation with Kenya
- Kenya is a critical U.S. security partner in East Africa, especially in the fight against al-Shabaab.
- The Department of State helps build the capacity of the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) to advance counterterrorism, border security, maritime security, and broader professionalization efforts. Assistance includes equipment, training, advisory support, and infrastructure to develop key institutional and tactical capabilities. The United States commenced funding in 2021 for a two-year U.S. Coast Guard program through the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement to train the new Kenya Coast Guard Service.
- The United States contributed $17 million in counterterrorism law enforcement assistance in 2020, which was focused on strengthening the rule of law, border security coordination, community engagement, and terrorism response.
Governance and Human Rights
- The United States works closely with Kenya to strengthen institutions and processes at the national and local levels in order to increase public participation in governance, transparency, and accountability; advance gender equality and women’s empowerment; improve the operating space for civil society and the media; improve upon our shared commitment to human rights with Kenya’s security forces, including in combatting violent extremism (CVE) efforts; and support preparations for credible and transparent elections in 2022.
- Kenya hosts over 500,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and other countries in the region. In FY 2020, the United States provided nearly $106 million for refugee protection and humanitarian assistance to support Kenya’s efforts, which includes the assistance mentioned above for pandemic response.
- Over 200 Kenyans participate in U.S. government-sponsored in-person and virtual exchange programs annually, and the alumni community has more than 5,000 members. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our five American Spaces in Kenya received more than 250,000 visitors per year.
- Over 250,000 Americans visited Kenya in 2019 and some 36,000 Americans are currently residents.
- Several U.S. corporations have regional headquarters in Nairobi. According to a report by William & Mary’s Global Research Institute, the U.S. bilateral relationship directly provides the Kenyan people over $3 billion annually, through trade, investment, assistance, and people-to-people ties.