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President Ruto embarks on historic state visit to the United States


By EDITORIAL DESK
Monday May 20, 2024


President William Ruto shakes hands with his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua who saw him off at JKIA when he departed fora three-day State visit to the US on May 19, 2024.

President William Ruto has departed for a three-day state visit to the United States.

He was seen off at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Sunday night by his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua and other top government officials.

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“This visit is historic as it is the first State Visit by a Kenyan Head of State in two decades and the first by an African Head of State since 2008,” State House Spokesman Hussein Mohamed stated.

He emphasized that the visit demonstrates the robust partnership between Kenya and the United States, marking 60 years of strong diplomatic ties.

During this period, Kenya and the United States have enjoyed deepening and mutually beneficial cooperation at bilateral and multilateral levels, culminating in the elevation of the relationship in 2018 to a Strategic Partnership. According to Hussein, this strategic partnership establishes a framework for continued Kenya-US Bilateral Strategic Dialogue, anchored on five main themes: Economic Prosperity, Trade, and Investment; Defense Cooperation; Democracy, Governance, and Civilian Security; Multilateral and Regional Issues; and Health Cooperation.

In pursuit of tangible outcomes in these critical areas, President Ruto was graciously invited by US President Joe Biden. The visit, themed “Partnership for Prosperity,” aims to bolster shared commitments to economic growth, democratic values, and peace and security, reflecting Kenya’s strategic importance to the US as a leading regional anchor and a main commercial gateway to Eastern Africa.

The visit will build on the existing partnership to highlight shared values including democratic governance, health partnerships, and the promotion of the creative economy.

  • It is also centred on security cooperation for peace, security, and sustainable development.
  • Trade and investment for shared prosperity as well as digital technology cooperation to foster innovation, progress, and inclusion.

Since December 2022, Kenya and the US have enhanced bilateral and multilateral engagements through participation in the US-Africa Summit, the third Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in April 2023, the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2024, and roadshows in Chicago and New York. These engagements have led to increased investments by US tech companies in Kenya, including Microsoft, Google, Cisco, IBM, Kyosk, and SunCulture.

President Ruto’s visit will commence in Atlanta, Georgia. He will visit the Carter Presidential Library and Museum to emphasize the shared commitment to governance, democratic values, and anti-corruption efforts. His remarks will underline the importance of democracies working collaboratively to tackle global challenges.

He will also visit Ebenezer Baptist Church to honor the civil rights struggle and underscore the respect for historical struggles for equality and justice. The third area of engagement on day one will focus on the U.S.-Kenya Health Partnership at the CDC Headquarters, where key announcements, including a new CDC-KEMRI partnership, will be made.

The President and First Lady will then be hosted by Kenyans living in Atlanta, highlighting the diaspora’s role in national transformation. On the second day, President Ruto will visit Spelman College to discuss the critical role of higher education in enhancing Kenya’s human capital development, crucial for attracting investments.

At Tyler Perry Studios, President Ruto will explore opportunities within the creative economy, highlighting the sector as a major job creator. He will then visit Coca-Cola to announce new investment partnerships and launch VIVO’s inaugural store in America, showcasing the power of Kenyan women entrepreneurs.

The President will also meet with Mayor Andre Dickens of Atlanta and the Atlanta CEO’s Council to position Kenya as a regional manufacturing hub. On Wednesday, May 22, the President and First Lady will travel to Washington, D.C., where they will be officially received with full ceremonial state honors.

In Washington, President Ruto will engage with a bipartisan congressional delegation, meet the Black Congressional Caucus, and hold discussions with a Bipartisan Caucus of the Senate. He will brief legislators on the challenges faced by democracies in Africa and urge Congress to extend the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA).

President Ruto and the First Lady will lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery to honor American soldiers and historic figures who have impacted Kenya’s history. He will then hold bilateral meetings with President Biden to discuss Kenya-US economic, health, and security partnerships, and regional developments.

The visit will conclude with a State Dinner at the White House, celebrating the enduring friendship between Kenya and the United States. On Friday, May 24, President Ruto will engage in strategic meetings focused on trade, investment, and digital cooperation, including a breakfast meeting at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a digital roundtable hosted by Vice President Harris. The visit will end with a visit to the Pentagon to highlight the Kenya-US defense partnership.



 





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