Kenya–United States relations

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Kenya – United States relations
Map indicating locations of Kenya and USA


United States

Kenya–United States relations are bilateral relations between Kenya and the United States. The United States and Kenya have long been close allies and have enjoyed cordial relations since Kenya's independence. Relations became even closer after Kenya's democratic transition of 2002 and subsequent improvements in human rights.

Kenya is one of the most pro-American nations in Africa and the world, seemingly more so than the U.S. itself. According to the Pew Research Global Attitudes Project, 87% of Kenyans view the U.S. favorably in 2007, decreasing slightly down to 83% in 2011 and 81% viewing the U.S. favorably in 2013. [1] and according to the 2012 U.S. Global Leadership Report, 68% of Kenyans approve of U.S. leadership, with 14% disapproving and 18% uncertain.[2] In a 2013 BBC World Service poll, 69% of Kenyans view U.S. influence positively, with only 11% viewing U.S. influence negatively.[3]


After Kenya's independence on 12 December 1963, the United States immediately recognized the new nation and moved to establish diplomatic relations. The embassy in Nairobi was established 12 December 1963—Kenya's independence day—with Laurence C. Vass as chargé d'affaires ad interim pending the appointment of an ambassador.

More than 9,000 U.S. citizens are registered with the U.S. Embassy as residents of Kenya. In 2006 a record 86,528 Americans visited Kenya, up 17.6% from 2005. About two-thirds of resident Americans are missionaries and their families. U.S. business investment is estimated to be more than $285 million, primarily in commerce, light manufacturing, and the tourism industry.

Al Qaeda terrorists bombed the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi on 7 August 1998, killing more than 200 and wounding thousands. Since that event, the Kenyan and U.S. Governments have intensified cooperation to address all forms of insecurity in Kenya, including terrorism. Families and victims of the attack have severally appealed to the Kenyan government to petition the U.S. government to compensate them. A Kenyan journalist who resides in the US has on several occasions castigated the US government for its nonchalant approach to the issue. In an article titled "The Big Bloody Burden of The Big Brother" published by the Daily Nation, one of the two mainstream Kenyan Newspapers, the writer, Ben Mutua Jonathan Muriithi wondered why "the Obama administration and others before it had turned a blind eye yet it was clear that Kenya had suffered as a Collateral damage".

The United States provides equipment and training to Kenyan security forces, both civilian and military. In its dialog with the Kenyan Government, the United States urges effective action against corruption and insecurity as the two greatest impediments to Kenya achieving sustained, rapid economic growth.[4]

Embassy of Kenya in Washington, D.C.

U.S. assistance to Kenya is substantial.[5] It promotes broad-based economic development as the basis for continued progress in political, social, and related areas of national life. The U.S. assistance strategy is built around five broad objectives: Fighting disease and improving healthcare; fighting poverty and promoting private sector-led prosperity; advancing shared democratic values, human rights, and good governance; cooperating to fight insecurity and terrorism; and collaborating to foster peace and stability in East Africa. The Peace Corps, which has 150 volunteers in Kenya, is integral to the overall U.S. assistance strategy in Kenya.

Principal U.S. Officials include:

  • AmbassadorRobert F. Godec since January, 2013
  • Deputy Chief of Mission—Pamela Slutz
  • USAID Mission Director—Erna Kerst
  • Public Affairs Officer—T.J. Dowling

The U.S. Embassy in Kenya is located on UN Avenue, Nairobi, P.O. Box 606, Village Market, Nairobi.

Embassy of the United States to Kenya

U.S. assistance to Kenya grew "exponentially" during the administration of President Barack Obama, as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) put it in a 2012 contracting document reported by the independent, investigative blog U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor. The number of USAID projects had grown significantly enough for the agency to justify hiring additional contractors to help it manage its Kenyan program portfolio. A Statement of Work for the support initiative acknowledged that "the level of U.S.-financed Kenyan operations has outpaced Washington's ability to adequately manage it."[6]

USAID months later issued a solicitation seeking private-sector help in carrying out an information-dissemination project aimed at swaying public opinion on U.S. "investments" in Kenya. The USAID/Kenya Strategic Communications Plan 2012–2013 explicitly laid out the Obama Administration's plan to "groom" journalists worldwide to encourage favorable reporting of U.S. assistance efforts. The strategic plan explicitly named particular journalists for targeting, encouraging potential contractors to "Engage a few key international journalists, such as the Economist '​s Africa Baobab blog, the Washington Post '​s [Africa Bureau Chief] Sudarsan Raghavan, the New York Times [East Africa Bureau Chief] Jeffrey Gettleman and AP's [Kenya correspondent] Jason Straziuso in following our progress on targeted issues." Similarly it calls for developing relationships with Kenyan media personalities including "bloggers such as Bankelele, The Young Agropreneur, Kenyanfarmer and DJs of popular radio programs such as DJ Prince of Ghetto Radio, Cess and Maqbul on Capital FM."[7]

Following the U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor report on this media targeting, however, USAID swiftly pulled the USAID/Kenya Strategic Communications Plan 2012–2013 from public view. The agency initially made the document available via the Federal Business Opportunities database, but soon after removed it, claiming that its posting of the document was accidental, intended "'for internal purposes only.'"[8]

Recent issues[edit]

Early in 2013, the Obama Administration via the U.S. Agency for International Development issued a Request for Proposals seeking contractor assistance in encouraging peace between warring tribes and cattle-raiders in and around Kenya.

The PEACE III initiative proposes, among other approaches, to arrange "reflective workshops" among groups in conflict primarily along Kenyan border regions, where such groups would share "trauma stories" as a means of reconsidering who is a "victim" and who is a "perpetrator."

According to U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor, the administration "acknowledges that chronic cattle rustling and other cultural practices – such as killing rivals “to prove their manhood or impress young women” – serve as impediments to progress."


See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes).[1]

External links[edit]

Media related to Kenya – United States relations at Wikimedia Commons