President Uhuru Kenyatta Sunday morning left for official visits to France and Germany, with development, cooperation and trade being at the top of his agenda.
The president’s first stop will be Paris, France where he will stay from April 4 to 6 before departing for Berlin, Germany where he will be until April 8.
It will be the first time in 17 years that a Kenyan head of State is visiting Germany.
The last such visit was by President Daniel arap Moi in 1999.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Kenya in 2011.
The visit to France, according to an executive brief prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affair, follows an invitation by the country’s president François Hollande.
“The French have expressed interest to cooperate with Kenya in counter-terrorism and radicalisation issues,” the brief states.
“It is anticipated that during the visit, (President Kenyatta) will not only discuss these with President Hollande but also visit the French Crisis Management Centre and the headquarters of French intelligence services with a view to learn how the French handle security crises”.
President Kenyatta and President Hollande will hold a bilateral meeting expected to “centre around peace and security in the Horn of Africa region especially Somalia, counter-terrorism and radicalisation issues, increased trade and investment between Kenya and France, tourism and cooperation in various sectors for example energy, health, education, agriculture, water, sports and culture”.
France, like Kenya, has been a recent target of terrorism.
For Kenya, the latest attack targeted the Kenya Defence Forces camp in El Adde in January killing dozens of soldiers.
On the other hand, the single deadliest terrorist attack in French history occurred in November when 130 people were killed in Paris.
France has also committed €100,000 (Sh11.5 million) to support education and upkeep of the student survivors of last year’s Garissa University College attack.
The visit to France could also give Kenya an opportunity to bring up the issue of the oil pipeline from Uganda.
France’s Total petroleum is a major shareholder in Ugandan oil resources and is believed to be the force behind Kampala’s decision to abandon the Hoima-Lokichar-Lamu pipeline route for the port of Tanga in Tanzania.
France is ranked sixth among the largest investors in Kenya, according to the brief.
The investments are spread in the transport, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, automobile and services sectors and include SDV-Transami, AGS, Frasers Schneider, Peugeot, Renault, Michelin and Proparco. Others are Total Kenya, Bamburi Cement, Alcatel, and France Telecom’s partnership in Telkom Kenya and Orange Mobile.
“In addition, through the Alliance Française network, France continues to support cultural activities in Kenya in various sectors such as music, theatre, graphic arts, dance as well as street arts,” the brief says.
According to a tentative programme, President Kenyatta is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany.
Among the issues on the table for discussion will be trade, investment, security cooperation, cultural and education exchange, tourism, regional peace and security and the crises in South Sudan and Burundi.
GLOBAL OPINION SHAPER
“Germany is increasingly becoming a major global opinion shaper and particularly within the European Union.
"Kenya and Germany continue to cooperate closely in the area of security, particularly in counter-terrorism and anti-radicalisation as well as in countering piracy off the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, which are major shipping routes for Kenya,” the brief states.
The foreign ministry executive brief says: “The meeting will present a good forum to underscore the need for closer cooperation in matters of security in light of global terror networks and to highlight that whereas Kenya has in the past been hit by terrorist activities due to the porous border it shares with Somalia, the terrorism menace is not unique to Kenya and hence the importance of cooperation of all the members of the international community”.
While in Germany, President Kenyatta will also meet with African Group of Ambassadors accredited to Berlin with one of their agenda items being to give a “brief on African solidarity and the ICC cases”.
On the eve of his return to Nairobi, Mr Kenyatta is scheduled to attend a breakfast meeting with the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry before visiting the Berlin Adlershof Science City and Renewable Energy Academy AG (Renac) industrial Park.