Kenya and the US say the fight against violent extremism will be strengthened as one way of protecting their business ties.
Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma says while both governments are focused on improving trade between them, the continual “threat of international jihadism” from Somali militants Al-Shabaab and other groups, means war on terror is a daily effort to protect businesses.
“This threat is probably the greatest risk to our strategic relationship because even if we think big, even if we create the right environment for investments and trade, unless we are able to tether the threat that comes with extremism, then we are at a risk,” she said in a speech in Washington DC.
“Ambitious trade and investments portfolio must be able to help build the wealth for our people. It must be able to create jobs, it must create decent living and contribute to our prosperity and the world.
Dr Juma , who is in the US alongside Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, spoke after she signed the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue framework with US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.
The framework is a document detailing how the two countries will implement four key pillars of Kenya-US relations.
It lists economic prosperity, trade and investment; defence and security cooperation, democracy, governance and civilian security as well as multilateral and regional issues.
Under the Donald Trump administration, the US has sought to invest in African countries by supporting both public and private entities through a programme called Connect Africa.
Dr Juma said cooperation on security matters has become “the guarantee for our continued prosperity.”
Kenya’s economy which relies on tourism felt the shocks when Shabaabs launched a series of attacks between 2013 and 2015, including the Westgate siege and the Garissa University attacks.
Under the framework the US is to continue supporting Kenya to implement a border control management programme, improve policing and improve civilian security. The US will also support the Kenya Defence Forces and other security agencies to fight against violent extremism.
“We see the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue as a proof positive that the United States and Kenya or committed to do the hard but rewarding work to build the relationship to a much higher and stronger level,” said Mr Sullivan.
In the longer-term, Mr Sullivan said the two countries will focus on finalising key infrastructure deals as well as addressing the issues of good governance.
The US has traditionally channelled funds through the USAID for programmes that target national and devolved governments to “strengthen national policies and advance and guide the devolution process.”
USAID has also supported the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal, the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties, as well as local civil society organisations on administering elections, election observation and participation of women, youth, and vulnerable populations.
Ahead of the 2022 elections, the USAID said it is providing support within the framework of the Building Bridges to National Unity Initiative on reforms and national cohesion.
Source: Daily Nation