John Kerry arrives in Nairobi on a peace mission
The need to improve business relations, boost counter-terrorism measures and stabilise the region from civil war are the key reasons United States Secretary of State John Kerry is returning to Nairobi on Monday.
State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said the US top diplomat is coming to talk about peace in the region, “primarily on stabilising our neighbour South Sudan”.
He added that Mr Kerry will also lay the groundwork for an upcoming business summit involving the East African Community and American business people.
“September is, of course, the month of the UN General Assembly but on the business front, there are meetings between Kenya and the US, meetings between US business leaders and the East African Community as well as meetings between the US and African business leaders,” he told a news conference at State House on Sunday.
“All of these focus on how to entrench US investments in Africa, and for us in Kenya where the opportunities are for US investments. US firms are hungry to invest in our energy sector,” he said.
“We expect that to be part of the deepening of our relations with the United States.”
The summit is scheduled to take place in New York on September 18, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his US counterpart Barack Obama are expected to co-chair the meeting, seen as a platform to discuss ways of attracting American investors to Kenya.
The New York forum will be in line with the US Presidential Policy Directive on Africa, an initiative launched in 2012 to strengthen democratic institutions, encourage trade and investment, support peace and security, and promote development.
The US will also host a similar conference involving other East African leaders on September 19.
This comes after the US renewed the African Growth and Opportunity Act to allow Kenya and other African countries to continue exporting selected products to America duty free.
Mr Kerry will be returning to Nairobi more than a year after he visited the country.
During his earlier visit, Kenya was battling various security challenges. Al-Shabaab had just attacked the Garissa University College, killing 148 people, and there was a strong debate to close the Dadaab refugee camp after Kenya argued it had become a hiding place for terrorists.
On Thursday, the US State Department announced Mr Kerry will be visiting Nairobi for meetings on security issues, especially after violence erupted in South Sudan.
“US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Nairobi, Kenya, on August 22 to meet with President Kenyatta to discuss regional security issues and counter-terrorism cooperation, as well as bilateral issues,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
Last year, Mr Kerry announced a $45 million (Sh4.5 billion) pledge to help care for refugees, after calling on Kenya to go slow on the closure bid.
He also announced an additional $100 million (Sh10 billion) to help with security along borders, especially the one with Somalia.
“Secretary Kerry will also meet with Kenyan Foreign minister Amina Mohamed and other regional foreign ministers to discuss key challenges in East Africa, including the prospects for the resumption of a political process in South Sudan and support to Somalia’s political transition and the ongoing fight against Al-Shabaab,” said Mr Kirby.