The Governments of the Republic of Kenya and the United States of America held the second session of the Kenya – United States Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Nairobi on November 17, 2021. Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Raychelle Omamo and U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken discussed strengthening the strategic partnership across all five pillars and advancing peace and prosperity in Africa and the western Indian Ocean region through the following actions:
Pillar One – Economic Prosperity, Trade, and Investment: The two countries committed to deepen economic ties, expand bilateral trade, and advance shared economic prosperity for the benefit of the Kenyan and American people. To further deepen economic ties, Kenya and the United States decided to explore additional mechanisms to expand bilateral trade and investments, including through maximization of AGOA, Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign, and Power Africa, as well as joint infrastructure development through the Build Back Better World initiative.
The two countries renewed their commitment to fully implement a Millennium Challenge Corporation threshold program in Kenya and to continue to build capacity in governance and financial accountability to advance Kenya’s progress towards a future MCC Compact. On food security, they also recognized Feed the Future’s expansion of economic opportunities for smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs, strengthening of household, community and market resilience to shocks, and diversification of agricultural production.
On environment and climate change, the two sides noted the importance of environmental protection and committed to cooperate bilaterally and multilaterally in providing institutional support and building capacity for environmental conservation, climate change, food security, weather monitoring and implementation of multilateral environment agreements.
Kenya and the United States committed to enhance cooperation on university education, academic research, academic scholarship, technical and vocational training and capacity building for the Ministry of Education.
Pillar Two – Defense Cooperation: Kenya and the United States will work together on counterterrorism, border security, maritime security, and professionalization of security forces. Both sides pledged to maintain pressure on al-Shabaab and other terror groups operating in the Horn of Africa through military exercises, joint operations, provision of equipment, and security cooperation. The two countries welcomed achievements so far and affirmed the need for enhanced partnership in counterterrorism and counter-insurgency capabilities.
Both sides pledged to increase maritime security cooperation to harness the blue economy and safeguard a free, open, and prosperous Indian Ocean region, and applauded the February 8, 2021, visit of USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, an Expeditionary Mobile Base ship, marking the first U.S. naval vessel visit to the Port of Mombasa in over a decade. The United States looks forward to finalizing the bilateral Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement that will facilitate greater flexibility in supporting combined training and operations.
Pillar Three – Democracy, Governance, and Civilian Security: The two countries underscored their commitment to fostering accountable and effective public institutions and to addressing governance, fiscal transparency, and accountability challenges.
Kenya and the United States affirmed that free and fair elections are the foundation of a robust democracy and are paramount to the protection and advancement of human rights and individual freedoms of all people. They noted with concern the rising incidence of coups and unconstitutional changes of government, and condemned these as contrary to their values and as threats to peace and stability.
Both countries noted important progress in the joint country action plan to enhance civilian security and governance cooperation. The two countries committed to enhance cooperation in police reforms and equipment, combatting cybercrime, and administration of justice.
The two countries also committed to expand their partnership to defend against common cyber threats, and reaffirmed their mutual commitment to an open, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet and a stable cyberspace. The two countries announced their intent to hold a U.S. – Kenya Cyber Dialogue later this year.
The United States reiterated its commitment to providing border management systems and training to increase Kenya’s screening and identification of dangerous individuals while facilitating legitimate travel and trade. Kenya welcomed the start of a partnership between the Kenya Coast Guard Service and the U.S. Coast Guard and reaffirmed its interest in acquiring U.S. excess defense article vessels.
Pillar Four – Multilateral and Regional Issues: Kenya and the United States pledged to work closely on the UN Security Council and in other regional and multilateral institutions to address sources of regional instability in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere. Both countries reiterated the importance for the government of Ethiopia, the TPLF, and all armed actors involved in the violent conflict in Ethiopia, to commit to an immediate cessation of hostilities and a negotiated ceasefire, to allow full, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access to populations in need, to undertake an inclusive national dialogue, and to oppose hate speech and incitement on the basis of ethnicity, religion or regional origins.
Kenya and the United States expressed their continued commitment to countering and degrading al-Shabaab in Somalia. In particular, in line with Resolution 2607 (2021), they planned to cooperate, alongside international and regional partners, in combatting the exploitation of the licit financial system regionally by Al Shabaab and affiliates linked to ISIL. The United States expressed gratitude for Kenya’s contribution of troops to the AU Mission in Somalia.
Both countries expressed concern about the slow implementation of the Revitalised Peace Accord in South Sudan and underscored the importance of supporting the implementation of the peace agreement.
The United States and Kenya reiterated their serious concern about the military takeover in Sudan and called for the restoration of the civilian-led transitional government on the basis of the constitutional declaration and other foundational documents of the transition.
The United States expressed appreciation for Kenya’s global climate leadership, and both countries pledged to promote greater global climate ambition in support of a 1.5-degree limit. They also committed to push for achieving net zero global emissions by 2050 or before, as well as advancing urgent action on climate adaptation and resilience. The two countries affirmed the ambitious targets in their respective Nationally Determined Contribution plans and underscored the urgency of working with all countries to realize climate ambitions post COP26.
The United States commended Kenya’s hospitality and commitment to hosting refugees over decades and encouraged Kenya to maintain asylum space for people fleeing conflict. Kenya called on the United States and other partners to share the burden of hosting refugees including through financial assistance as well as by also maintaining asylum space and resettlement for refugees.
Pillar Five – Health Cooperation: Kenya expressed appreciation for the U.S. donation, in partnership with COVAX, of over four million vaccine doses to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This is in addition to the $76 million in U.S.-provided health equipment, personal protective gear, testing (including genomic sequencing), training, surveillance, and research since the onset of the pandemic. The U.S. government has also supported Kenya’s HIV/AIDS response. The partnership has prevented millions of HIV infections and currently treats over 1.2 million HIV-positive Kenyans. As a result, Kenya is on the path to epidemic control by 2026.
Kenya and the United States are committed to continue collaborative research and development of diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics to detect, prevent, and treat COVID-19.
The United States will continue to support the Kenyan government to realize its goal of universal health coverage for all Kenyans and the establishment of the National Public Health Institute.
Kenya and the United States committed to continue collaboration on cancer research, evidence dissemination, and training activities that are strengthening cancer control in both countries and globally. Partnerships and consultations between the two countries will advance Kenya’s regulation of foods, drugs, medical devices, and chemicals. In collaboration with the private sector, these joint efforts will help Kenya towards its goal of manufacturing medical supplies, equipment, and vaccines.
Kenya and the United States look forward to the third Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Washington D.C. in 2022.