President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday afternoon (American time) met his counterpart President Donald Trump at the white house, on what was a second formal meeting in White House for an African leader after Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari visit late April, this year. Trade and investment in Kenya, Peace and Security at the horn of Africa and the direct flights from Nairobi to New York City which is set to commence on October, spanned just some of the top agenda in the Uhuru-Trump meeting.
Prior to the Monday meeting, President Kenyatta witnessed the signing of two agreements that will see two US companies invest $238 million worth of projects in Kenya, as quoted in the official presidential website. The US overseas Private corporation (OPIC) and Kipeto Wind Energy Company signed documents to close a $232 million deal to finance the construction and operation of a 100-megawatt grid-connected wind power plant in Nairobi.
The second agreement, involving Twiga foods and OPIC represented a $5 million letter of commitment in financing, to expand distribution network of Twiga foods and improve food security and agricultural wages in Kenya. This trade deal represented President Kenyatta’s commitment to open up Kenya for foreign investment in partnerships that are mutually benefit to both the people of Kenya and American investors.
On Monday afternoon, President Kenyatta and first lady Margaret Kenyatta were ushered in to the White house by President Trump and U.S first lady Melania Trump. Whereas the key details from an hour-long private meetings have not been released, it has emerged that the bilateral talks held at the cabinet office featured the top agenda earlier mentioned.
On peace and security in the horn of Africa, President Kenyatta was keen to cement the partnership with USA. This is in response to the security scare majorly received from the militant group, Al-shabaab from Somalia. Despite the recent reports stating the USA’s intent to scale back aid to African military units fighting terrorism, in a bid to compete with more traditional threats from China and Russia, U.S remains to be a strong and resourceful partner in counterterrorism operations across Africa.
US being a ‘trade superpower’, with a First world trade profile, will be a necessary partner in promoting economic growth in Kenya through the Foreign Direct Investments. With the President meeting with business executives of leading US companies in Washington DC, partnerships with such companies will bolster businesses in the country and create more jobs, even as President Kenyatta gears towards achieving the big four agenda.
This trade partnership with the US represents just a drop in the ocean of planned partnership with other countries, as encompassed by a tweet in President Kenyatta’s personal twitter account: “And we are looking at how we can partner with countries across the globe in partnerships that are not patronizing but those that are anchored on win-win positions”.
In a meeting that was termed ‘fruitful’ by President Kenyatta, the commencement of the direct flight from Nairobi to New York was also discussed. President Kenyatta highlighted The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) as one of the main areas expected to benefit from the direct flights. AGOA which provides duty-free preferential access, for 6400 product lines from 38 African countries to the U.S market will strengthen its mandate with the direct flights.
Notwithstanding the fact that President Trump and the U.S have for a long time been criticized for lacking a clear-cut investment policy in Africa, the invite of President Kenyatta to the White House represents a giant step for a growing U.S relationship with Kenya and Africa at large. This is outlined by President Kenyatta’s eagerness to down play the assumption of a zero-sum game agreement, rendering the arrangement with President Trump a Win-Win situation.
What do you think?