USA and Kenya: Strategic Partners November 17th


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 of State Antony J. Blinken will visit Kenya November 17-18, where he will meet President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cabinet Ambassador for Foreign Affairs Raychelle Omamo to discuss the partnership between the United States and Kenya Governments. The United States and Kenya are working together on several global priorities, including ending the COVID pandemic and investing in health, managing the climate crisis, building a more inclusive world economy, and strengthening democracy and respect for human rights. In addition, the United States and Kenya are working together to address regional priorities, including ending the crisis in Ethiopia, combating terrorism in Somalia and restoring civilian-led transition in Sudan.

Relations between the US and Kenya

  • The United States and Kenya established diplomatic relations in 1964. Our bilateral engagement has expanded considerably since Kenya returned to multiparty democracy in 1992.
  • The United States and Kenya expanded our relationship into a strategic partnership in 2018 and held our first Bilateral Strategic Dialogue (BSD) in Washington, DC in 2019. The BSD is based on five pillars that span the breadth of our common interests in the areas: economic prosperity, defense, democracy and civil security, multilateral and regional issues, and public health.
  • The United States provided over $ 560 million in bilateral aid to Kenya in FY2020. This help supported integrated programming across our pillars of partnership. In addition, the United States provided nearly $ 98 million in humanitarian aid in FY2021.

Providing health support and responding to pandemics

  • The US government is the largest contributor to the Kenyan health sector over the past three years, with an annual investment of approximately $ 450 million annually, benefiting an estimated 25 million Kenyans. As a result of our investments and the complementary and collaborative efforts of the Kenyan government, 1.2 million Kenyans are currently receiving life-saving HIV treatment, the under-five mortality rate has decreased approximately 56 percent since 2000, and the average life expectancy of Kenyans is increased by more than 15 years in the same period.
  • The United States and Kenya have worked closely to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, reduce secondary economic impacts and limit non-essential cross-border travel while addressing the economic challenges of reduced mobility.
  • The United States is the largest bilateral donor to the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and supports the procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) program. To date, the United States, in partnership with COVAX, has delivered nearly 4 million doses of vaccine to Kenya and has also invested $ 4.5 million in technical assistance to support Kenya’s nationwide COVID-19 vaccine induction program.

Economic relations between the USA and Kenya

  • In 2020, the United States imported $ 568.9 million worth of goods from Kenya and exported $ 370.8 million worth of goods to Kenya. Over the past decade, US-Kenya trade in goods has been roughly balanced, with an annual trade volume of around US $ 1 billion. Kenya receives over $ 1 billion in remittances from the United States annually.
  • The Kenyan economy is currently benefiting from participation in the trade preference program of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Climate and energy

  • The United States is helping Kenya achieve its clean energy goals through funding, grants, technical assistance, advocacy, and promoting investments in renewable energy. Since 2013, the US Trade and Development Agency, Power Africa and the International Development Finance Corporation have invested nearly $ 600 million in funding and technical support for renewable energy projects in Kenya, supporting 20 percent of Kenya’s current power generation capacity. This support has helped attract $ 1.8 billion in additional private investment in clean energy projects in Kenya over the past six years. These projects include the Ormat Olkaria III geothermal plant, which produces 16 percent of Kenya’s geothermal capacity and five percent of the country’s total electricity capacity, and the Kipeto wind farm, Kenya’s second largest wind power project.
  • The US government, working with the US private sector, has provided approximately one million off-grid and on-line connections for homes and businesses across the country through Power Africa, and has provided power to over 10 million Kenyans over the past six years. In many rural areas, minigrids and off-grid connections are supplying households and companies with electricity for the first time. These investments created over 40,000 jobs in the green electricity sector.

US security cooperation with Kenya

  • US peace and security assistance totaled over $ 560 million in FY2020. Kenya has purchased US-made military equipment worth over $ 139 million in the past three years, making Kenya a key strategic military partner. The U.S. partnership with the Kenya Defense Force includes counter-terrorism, border security, aviation security, maritime security (including the newly formed Kenyan Coast Guard) support, peacekeeping support and broader professionalization efforts.
  • The United States is assisting Kenyan law enforcement agencies to promote police accountability and reform, and to support anti-corruption efforts within Kenyan institutions. Other programs include support to combat violent extremism, security initiatives to build the capacity of civil society organizations, and justice sector reform.
  • As of 2021, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism has 14 active projects funded with $ 69 million over five years to enhance the capabilities of Kenya’s civil law enforcement to counter terrorism in areas such as crisis response, investigations, border security, aviation security and combat violence to improve extremism. The Department of Defense provided $ 24 million in assistance focused on building Kenya’s defense institutions, increasing military sales, and fighting terrorism. As of 2017, the United States has provided $ 19 million in counter-terrorism aid to Kenya. In addition, the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs has allocated approximately $ 7.6 million annually for the past three years to promote police accountability, reform and support anti-corruption efforts within Kenyan institutions.

Governance and human rights

  • The United States is working closely with Kenya to strengthen institutions and processes at the national and local levels to increase public participation in governance and promote greater transparency and accountability; Promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women; Improving the freedom of action for civil society and the media; Integrate human rights as a component of combating violent extremism; and support the preparations for free and fair elections in 2022.
  • US government bilateral democracy and government aid to Kenya for FY2020 was around $ 8.7 million. This support includes governance reform programs, anti-corruption efforts, national reconciliation and dialogue, and combating violent extremism.
  • Kenya is home to over 500,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and other countries. Between 2015 and FY2021, the United States provided nearly $ 790 million in aid to refugees in Kenya.

Human-to-human relationships

  • In 2019, over 250,000 Americans visited Kenya while there are currently about 36,000 Americans living in the country. The consular division of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi has issued over 5,000 immigrant visas and 21,000 nonimmigrant visas, including 1,500 student visas. All visa categories saw around 75 percent decrease during the COVID-19 pandemic, but are expected to surpass historical norms in the future.
  • Over 200 Kenyans participate in government-sponsored in-person and virtual exchange programs annually, and the alumni community has more than 4,900 members. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the five American Spaces in Kenya received more than 250,000 visits per year.
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