2018 puts Kenya on global map as top foreign dignitaries visit

Some of the top-ranking world dignitaries who visited Kenya in 2018, from left: Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed Ali, UK PM Theresa May, Alain Berset of of Switzerland, Korean PM Lee Nak-yeon and US First Lady Melania Trump. PHOTOS | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • In May, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali arrived in Nairobi.
  • Switzerland President Alain Berset's visit aimed to broaden bilateral relations between his country and Kenya.
  • And also in July, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh came visiting.

The year 2018 was a successful one for Kenya on the global arena going by the number of high rankling dignitaries who visited Nairobi.

Since July, former US President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Alain Berset of Switzerland, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon, and Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh toured Kenya.

US First Lady Melania Trump, as well as several representatives of various countries, a number of business delegations, top UN diplomats and business leaders have toured Kenya.

In May, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali arrived in Nairobi on a tour that was expected to bolster the existing strong relations between Kenya and Ethiopia.

BILATERAL ISSUES

Prime Minister Ali and his host President Uhuru Kenyatta focused their discussions on critical bilateral, regional, and global matters.

On the bilateral level, they re-emphasised the great historical foundation on which the two nations have continued to build their bilateral relations and agreed that the vision of the forefathers points to a future of shared values, culture and tradition.

In that meeting, cross-border security challenges exacerbated by vulnerable communities were identified as obstacles to sustainable peace.

July had the most dignitaries visiting.

OBAMA

Mr Obama returned to Kogelo, his ancestral home in Kenya’s Siaya County, to open the Sauti Kuu Resource Centre, the multi-million-shilling youth centre built by his half-sister Auma Obama.

The visit to Kenya was Mr Obama’s first tour of Africa since he left office as the 44th US president.

In this particular visit, he separately met with President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

The tour paled in comparison to his last visit in 2015 as there was no Air Force One or the Beast, the two things that symbolise the power of an American president, especially while travelling abroad.

This is not the first time Mr Obama was coming to Kenya as he had visited the country in 1988 and later on in 2006 as the Senator for Illinois.

The second visit was interpreted as a sign of rekindling relationships between the US and Kenya and a trust in the current government.

SWISS PRESIDENT

This was followed by a visit by Switzerland President Alain Berset which aimed to broaden bilateral relations between his country and Kenya.

Kenya is one of Switzerland's five most important trading partners in Sub-Saharan Africa.

President Berset’s visit came after renewed relations between Kenya and Switzerland, with Bern opening its new Embassy building in Gigiri two years ago.

Close ties between Switzerland and Kenya go back to Kenya’s independence.

UTALII COLLEGE

The iconic Kenya Utalii College set up in the 1970s is the best-known Kenya-Switzerland economic cooperation project.

By training the first generation of indigenous Kenyan hotel managers, it helped lay the foundation for Kenya’s tourism sector.

In the same month, Korea Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon was in the country for a two-day official visit.

With the visit, South Korea appears to join other Asian economic giants in strengthening business ties with the region's economic powerhouse.

The Korean leader pledged to support President Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda with a key focus on Korea opening its market to Kenya’s agricultural produce.

DJIBOUTI PRESIDENT

And also in July, the Djibouti president came visiting.

Together with his host, they signed a number of agreements, mainly centred on boosting trade, but also influenced by security concerns.

President Guelleh said: “We are in a troubled region where we are confronted by extremism and violence. That is why our militaries are in Somalia to help it regain stability because what happens in Somalia has an immediate impact on all of us.”

And during UK PM May’s visit in August, an agreement was signed to ensure that proceeds of corruption and crime hidden in Britain are returned in a continued bid by President Kenyatta to fight the vice.

AMISOM

PM May also announced that Britain will soon unveil a package for the African Mission in Somalia (Amisom), the peace keeping team that comprises of Kenyan soldiers maintaining peace in the country.

In October, Mrs Trump, in her first solo trip to Africa, visited Kenya to promote health and education.

She was hosted by her Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and they held talks on shared interests.

The talks focused on health, especially the welfare of mothers and children, and conservation.

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