Below is a short snippet of our larger East Africa Q3 Forecast, which you can download for free if you fill out this form:
Kenya – International Affairs
The East Africa Community (EAC) faces continued instability on its border from Somalia, South Sudan — where recent efforts to reconcile President Salva Kiir with opposition leader Riek Machar have failed — and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
- Kenya will maintain its forces in Somalia. Consequently, Al Shabaab will continue to see it as an enemy country. However, under the surface, such relations are a lot more fluid, given the co-operation in charcoal trading and cross-border smuggling. Somalia will remain a key route for goods like sugar or counterfeit goods to be smuggled into Kenya, which involves the co-operation of security forces and other authorities.
- Kenyatta has appointed Odinga as a special envoy to South Sudan to help broker a political solution in the ongoing civil war. South Sudan is a smaller export destination for Kenya than for Uganda, and many local firms have reduced their footprint in the country. However, Kenya hosts many South Sudanese, including those suspected of having invested corrupt proceeds in Kenya. So far, Kenya has refused to cooperate with US demands to freeze these assets that are intended to increase pressure on South Sudan’s elite to negotiate a peace agreement. This will probably continue given the lack of US-African policy capacity and the substantial level of South Sudanese investment — mostly in real estate — in Kenya which the latter will be reluctant to jeopardise.
- Kenya’s relations with Tanzania will remain touchy and the bickering over cross-border trade issues, the employment of Kenyans in Tanzania etc will continue. There will, however, be no wholesale breakdown in this relationship in the coming months.
- Kenyan businesses will be keenly following Ethiopia’s recent political changes and the proposed market liberalisation to make use of upcoming investment opportunities. They have long been interested in their northern neighbour’s large market.
In mid-June 2018, Kenyatta moved the Department of International Trade from the Monica Juma led Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Co-operatives headed by Adan Mohammed. Turf wars on international trade issues between the ministries had been a challenge in the past, but Mohammed has delivered an undistinguished track record in Kenyatta’s first term, so this will probably not lead to fundamental improvements. More generally, Kenya’s current political infighting will distract the country from international affairs.
This article was taken from the East Africa Q3 Forecast, which can be found as part of our East Africa Politics & Security publication. If you wish to speak to one of our consultants in regards to the region or this article the please contact us.