Kenya: After UK, Kenyatta Expected in France

23 January 2020

President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to travel to Paris later this month for the 2020 Africa-France conference.

This comes hot on the heels of the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit on Monday, January 20.

Plans for another Franco-Africa summit to be held in South Africa in June are also under way.

French President Emmanuel Macron has invited 54 heads of state and government from Africa for the January 31 summit.

State House spokesperson Kanze Dena yesterday told the Nation that she had not been briefed on the President's trip to France.

The France and UK summits follow similar trips by African leaders to Russia, China and Japan. While 16 heads attended the UK event, 43 travelled to Sochi for the first ever Russia-Africa forum October last year.

Some 51 presidents and heads of government took part in the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

The tour of China came days after Mr Kenyatta held a meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington DC.

The London summit is one of the UK's major efforts to find business destinations ahead of its quitting the European Union at the end of January.

Political analysts say it could also be a strategy to make inroads into a continent.

The influence of the UK has been waning in the recent years as many African countries look to China and the US for support.

Beijing has overtaken the West as Africa's largest trading partner. Kenya is China's partner in driving the Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Africa industrial cooperation.

Since 2015, China has been Kenya's main export market, toppling India.

Beijing, the world's second biggest economy, shipped in goods valued at Sh390.62 billion in 2017, a 15.75 per cent growth from the previous year, according to government statistics.

Kenya's exports, however, fell marginally to Sh9.998 billion in 2017 from Sh10.060 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of nearly Sh380.63 billion.

The Chinese are the second biggest creditors to Kenya after the World Bank.

In the first two visits to Beijing, Mr Kenyatta secured loans that have built a railway from Mombasa to Naivasha.

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