• June 18, 2024
  • Last Update June 18, 2024 3:54 PM
  • Nairobi

Gifts from the USA, here’s what President Ruto brings home

Gifts from the USA, here’s what President Ruto brings home

Nairobi, 

Saturday , 25 May, 2024 

By McCreadie Andias 

A state visit is a formal visit by the head of state of one country to the head of state of another country, usually at the invitation of the latter.

State visits are extremely important and holistic, given that they provide an opportunity for the countries’ leaders to discuss several important issues.

Typically, state visits are not organized to discuss or debate policies. They are a celebration which focuses on strengthening the ties between the leaders of both countries.

On Friday, 24th May,2024, President William Ruto wrapped up a historic four day state visit in the United States, Only the Second for a sitting Kenyan President after Mwai Kibaki’s State Visit in 2003 ,And the fourth in Africa for over two decades. 

President Edwin Barclay of Liberia was the first leader of an African nation to travel to the US for a state visit in 1943 during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, the 32nd US president.

Meanwhile, in 2008 — sixteen years ago — John Kuffour, former president of Ghana, and his wife were hosted at the White House by George Bush, the 43rd president of the US.

Before Kuffor visited the US in 2008, Mwai Kibaki, the third president of Kenya, had also been welcomed on a state visit by Bush in October 2003.

Ruto’s colorful visit in the US was welcomed with great fashion complemented by Red Carpets, Military Parades, Honorary awards,a typically elaborate White House dinner, a state department luncheon, and an invitation to stay at Blair House, the designated residence of several foreign dignitaries visiting Washington DC. The Blair House is also known as the president’s guesthouse.

To the United States, a state visit is considered the highest expression of friendly bilateral relations between the country and a foreign state. It usually lasts for four days and features official public ceremonies.

Thinking loud, President Ruto’s state visit to Washington DC was a glorious success. 

He got an array of amazing goodies returning to Kenya with his pockets full and a bright smile on his face. 

Since his arrival to the US, the president had been following a busy itinerary, attending at least 10 events out of the 20 activities scheduled for him during this visit.

The elaborate White House event marked the most important engagement for the president and the people of Kenya during this visit.

During his White House tour where he was warmly received by His Host, US President Joe Biden, The two amongst their High level delegates, held closed-door talks including bilateral agreements anchored on strong bilateral levers that were built by the Strategic Partnership agreement Signed in 2018 by then Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and then US President Donald Trump, the first such partnership by an African country with the US, which led to the launch of the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in 2019. 

It is through the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue that Kenya and the US identified issues of common and mutual interest between them based on 5 core pillars, namely Economic Prosperity, Democracy and Civilian Security, Defense, Public Health (Health Cooperation), and Multilateral and Regional Issues.

President William Ruto’s visit to the United States saw the signing for implementation of the 5 core pillars while many other meetings were held and several far-reaching agreements signed between the US Government, business entities and the Government of Kenya.

While many agreements were made, Some could be best described as promissory notes that would take both time and process to deliver. 

If the United States will see the Success of all these agreements, Kenya will be at the receiving end of huge benefits in relation to Defense and Security, Education, Health, Corporate Investment and Finance as well as Diplomatic ties amongst other key sectors of development. 

Looking at the gifts from the US In relation to Defense and Security, Kenya will receive a donation of 16 Huey and MD 1500 Helicopters from the US from 2024 to 2025.The Defence sector will also be benefit from M1117 amoured cars that will help combat banditry in North Rift amongst other national security challenges. 

The US will further designate Kenya as a major non-NATO ally, making it the first sub-Saharan African country to receive the designation. Currently, 18 countries are designated as non-NATO allies.

The alliance between Kenya and NATO – will deliver additional U.S. aid, including a new $7 million partnership to help modernize Kenya’s National Police Service, with a focus on staff and training development.This comes as Kenya releases it’s first batch of 1000 police officers under the multinational security mission in Haiti, a carrebean country ravaged by street gang violence. 

Kenya had pledged to deploy it’s police to the country in June 2023, a commitment warmly received by US President Joe Biden and The United Nations, while it faces backlash and hostility from Haiti nationals who describe Kenya and President William Ruto as a ‘slave’ to the US. 

Haiti civilians have since took to the streets  protesting the move which they see as an intrusion to their local national issues. 

Meanwhile, President William Ruto insisted that Haiti will not be an exception from Kenya’s collective peace ambitions noting that Kenya must work together with it’s allies, including the U.S., to confront criminals and terrorists who deter economic growth and prosperity.  

The President also engaged the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, when he visited the Pentagon, a major US security facility, in Virginia, where they discussed more issues of collective Defence and security. 

Moving on, Ruto – Biden talks saw giant Investment outcomes, one where Kenya will benefit from a $1 Billion data center in the country, following a financial partnership between giant software company Microsoft and AI company G42. This will boost Kenya’s efforts to expand cloud computing services in East Africa.

The two countries also agreed to establish a strategic dialogue on artificial intelligence which has been taking shape in developing countries while posing challenges on data security and privacy protection. 

Furthermore, The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation announced plans to open an office in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, playing a key role in driving its efforts across key sectors in Kenya such as agriculture, health, e-mobility, and energy.

The development sector was recognized as a critical area in Kenya’s economic transformation Agenda. On Thursday, President Ruto launched The Kenya Urban Mobility and Growth Threshold Programme in Washington, D.C.which will tackle the economic growth challenges related to land use and transport planning in the Nairobi Metropolitan.

With respect to combating poverty and addressing global food security, The U.S. Agency for International Development will provide $15 million that will also seek to expand investment opportunities in Kenya. 

While in the Corporate and Investment industry, President William Ruto welcomed the global business community for Business in Kenya. 

“Kenya means business. We urge international businesses to capitalise on the 60-year-old Kenya-U.S. relationship that is grounded on shared values of democracy, freedom and enterprise to invest in Kenya.”The President noted. 

He welcomed investments in renewable energy, housing, manufacturing, agriculture and ICT sectors. President Joe Biden also urged US Investors to project business opportunities in the Kenyan market. 

“We are open to engagements with investors so that we can make our country’s business environment more attractive, stable and predictable.

Such routine discussions have yielded results, with Kenya ranked among the top foreign direct investment destinations in the world.”Ruto said. 

The President witnessed the signing of various deals and MoUs alongside US Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C., during the Kenya-U.S. Business Forum. 

Further business agreements saw Kenya and Coca cola sign a Framework Collaboration Agreement to reinforce Coca-Cola’s engagement with Government of Kenya on policy consideration and Coca-Cola’s support in setting up a mango supply chain hub in Kenya.Coca-Cola will additionally invest Sh23 billion ($175 million) over the next five years to expand its operations in Kenya which will also create employment for Kenyans. 

To address the debt crisis ailing Kenya and other developing countries, An agreement was reached to Launch the Nairobi-Washington Vision which is a call to the international community to help debt-laden countries like Kenya manage debt while investing in economic growth.The initiative Will also woo international financial institutions to provide coordinated packages of support and creditor countries to provide forms of debt relief.

This comes as President William Ruto continues to decry the unfair global financial systems characterized by higher interests and small repayment terms, which he says, have impeded third world countries development, growth and self – reliance opportunities due to enslavery to debt. 

While at the United States Capitol, President William Ruto engaged the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) which plays a key role in advancing social justice, human rights and economic development across the globe.The president was honoured to be recognised as the Honorary Member of CBC for his advocacy for Global financial reforms. 

He implored the Congress to take lead in reconfiguring the global financial architecture where power is not in the hands of the few. The President insisted that a bold, robust and targeted approach will free Africa of the debt burden and transform the world.

The United States has committed to make available lending of up to $21 billion to the International Monetary Fund’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust to support the poorest countries ailing with recession and debt. 

Furthermore, The US Committed to provide $250 million for crisis response to the World Bank’s International Development Association that will help combat disasters and crises.

Concerning Climate Change, Kenya and USA agreed to launch the U.S-Kenya Climate and Clean Energy Industrial Partnership under which The U.S. and Kenya will work with international financial institutions and multilateral trust funds to identify mechanisms for mobilizing investment for clean energy manufacturing and services.

While delivered thoughts on investing in climate solutions at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Centre, Washington, D.C., President Ruto noted that the world must take urgent action against climate change. 

“We cannot afford to resign to fate over the deadly climate crisis. The world must get back to work, take a bold, unusual and path-breaking resolve to safeguard our ecosystem. We can only keep our communities safe and healthier through the healing of our planet.”He said 

Additionally to adress climate change, Support Virunga Power, a U.S. company announced a pipeline of six hydropower projects in Kenya with a total expected investment of $100 million. These projects will provide 31 megawatts of clean, renewable energy over the next five years.

The USA will also provide a $60 million grant from the Millennium Challenge Corporation that will fund a four-year program in Kenya focusing on transportation needs, safer options for women and pedestrians, and climate-friendly public transportation.

In relation to healthcare, President Ruto recognized the US as a ‘true ally’ to Kenya’s Healthcare sector from infrastructure, pioneering research to the tackling of infectious diseases . 

Here, The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kenya’s government will share information, identifying best practices and defining steps toward the development and full launch of the Kenyan National Public Health Institute.

The International Development Finance Corporation is making a $10 million direct loan to Kenyan company Hewa Tele, which supplies medical oxygen to healthcare facilities in Africa, funds that will help the company scale up its services in supporting Healthcare systems. 

HIV/AIDS epidemic has been a healthcare nightmare for decades in Kenya’s Health system. Under the Healthcare agreements, The two countries created the HIV Sustainability Roadmap: An agreement for Kenya’s Ministry of Health and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to collaborate in developing a sustainable plan to eliminate HIV as a public health threat in Kenya by 2027.

The USA will provide $31.1 million investment in Kenya’s digital health infrastructure, including expanding the availability of electronic medical records at the clinic and community levels, building renewable solar power plants for hospitals, and linking pregnant women to ambulance services through mobile platforms.

President William Ruto also revealed that The US and Kenya will collaborate to promote the local manufacturing of vaccines, a mission that has also been highlighted in the African Union Centre for Infections Disease Control and Prevention, vision 2032.

With respect to the education sector, Kenya will benefit from a $3.3 million funding program for 60 Kenyan undergraduate students to study in the United States, focusing on STEM subjects.This, the President noted will help develop programmes aligned with industry requirements to equip our youth with skills to thrive in a sustainable way.

Kenya will also get additional $500,000 to support Kenyan students, scientists, researchers, and engineers by encouraging U.S. universities to increase investment in relationships with Kenyan universities and research institutions.This pact will enhance student and faculty exchange, joint research and innovation to accelerate the country’s Silicon Savannah ambition.

The John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies will launch a new fellowship program bringing together high-achieving mid-career government officials from select African countries. Kenya is the first country to be added to the inaugural fellowship cohort.

As part of his itinerary during his visit to the United States,President William Ruto also had the opportunity to visit the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. 

The studio, built to empower and support African-American talents is one of the largest film studios in America as it sits on 330-acres of land that formerly housed a US military installation, the Fort McPherson army base which was closed in 2011.It is the first studio of such magnitude built by an individual in America. 

During the visit, President Ruto met with Steve Harvey, a well-known American television host, producer, actor, and comedian, along with a delegation from Tyler Perry Studios. The meeting aimed to discuss a potential collaborative partnership between Tyler Perry Studios and Kenya in the media, entertainment, and creative industries, with a goal to position Kenya as a regional leader and global powerhouse in these sectors.

Following this visit, it is expected that the president, who made the Creative Economy a key campaign plank, has learnt critical lessons and derived novel ideas necessary to forge valuable relationships and partnerships to transform Kenya’s film industry to the level of the US film and TV industry, which is valued at $800 billion, supports 2.7 million people and 122,000 businesses, and pays $242 billion in wages every year.

It is expected that the president will task officers serving in his government to come up with a package of incentives to stimulate innovation, engender commercial viability, and attract investments into this space. This will ensure that Kenya does not continue to lose opportunities in film to South Africa and Nigeria which have a more advanced, developed, and incentivized film industry making it the darling of both regional and global investors willing to spend top dollar. 

Investing in film production through studios like Tyler Perry’s could be one of the ways through which the creative space in Kenya can be supported so that the sector becomes commercially lucrative and attract investment.

During a technology roundtable with President Joe Biden at The White House, Washington, President William Ruto noted that technology partnerships will help anchor more opportunities in the digital space. 

“No partnership is as valuable as one that is anchored on technology. Kenya appreciates the noble gesture by the United States of America to put more resources in the digital space to expand opportunities and transform lives not only in Kenya but also across our continent.”The President noted. 

Summing up. As progress has been made in deepening Kenya-US relations, the speed that would gear the implementation of these agreements is still slow. 

In particular, the promise of a Free Trade Agreement that would allow Kenyan goods and services to access the US market with minimal barriers to trade and a Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership under the theme of Economic Prosperity is yet to be achieved despite several rounds of negotiations and dialogues that ensued after.

Therefore, Kenyans are waiting with bated breath to see whether there will be a white smoke on the implementation of the agreements reached during President William Ruto’s US state visit. 

Meanwhile, critics argue that despite the many goodies that the president will be flying with back into the country,there might be unseen strings attached to these lavish deals with might have seen the President offer more in return. 

Economic experts also challenge the benefits of these deals to the common man. 

However, President William Ruto in an Interview with CNN noted that Kenya does not owe allegiance to any of the so called super powers including US and China insisting that his collaboration with the East and West in based on a development incentive. 

“We are neither facing west or east, we are facing foward” The President noted. 

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *