, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 18 – President Uhuru Kenyatta returned to the country Thursday morning after an official visit to the United Kingdom and China that saw Kenya receive a boost in foreign investment and infrastructure support.
In the UK, President Kenyatta met Prime Minister Theresa May and investors on trade, investment and security as well as attended a summit on Somalia.
The President, accompanied by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, also met Prince William at the Buckingham Palace and discussed a wide range of issues, including wildlife conservation.
Prince William is an ardent supporter of Kenya’s conservation efforts.
President Kenyatta also separately met the Chief Minister of Jersey, Senator Ian Gorst, whom he thanked for assisting in repatriation of funds earned from proceeds of corruption.
At the meeting with Prime Minister May, President Kenyatta and the Prime Minister agreed on creating a working group to examine a new framework for bilateral and economic relations between the two countries to ensure predictability and continuation of the existing market conditions after Brexit.
They also discussed Kenya’s counter-terrorism program in the context of deepening the security architecture for Kenya and the region, and the Prime Minister made a commitment to support the program.
At the meeting with British investors under the umbrella East African Association, President Kenyatta was informed of new investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars being ploughed into Kenya.
UK firm Equinox Energy Capital said it was near financial closure of its $250 million 35 megawatt Homa Bay hyacinth-to-energy plant while tea firm, Kericho Gold, said it had $25 million ready for new investment in a value-adding plant on a 25-acre plot in Miritini, Mombasa County, which is likely to employ up to 10,000 youth.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) disclosed that it was investing nearly $10m in modern multimedia production studios in Kenya, which will lead to the creation of 250 new jobs.
In China, President Kenyatta attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation where he positioned Kenya for a slice of the Chinese Government’s Sh15 trillion funding of major infrastructure projects as part of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative.
Kenya is part of the Silk Road and is set to reap more benefits from its close ties with China.
Already, with Chinese funding, Kenya has seen rapid progress in infrastructure projects – key among them the first phase of the Standard Gauge Railway which has been completed on budget and 18 months ahead of schedule, creating more than 30,000 jobs.
The President’s visit also saw China elevate its bilateral relationship with Kenya to one of comprehensive strategic cooperation.
The two countries entered into multi-billion deals when President Uhuru Kenyatta held bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to cement the cooperation.
China offered Kenya a grant of Sh19.2 billion to mark the elevation of the two countries’ relationship.
Kenya also got another pledge of RMB 150 million (Sh2.4 billion) for drought mitigation measures and another $5 million (Sh500 million) support for refugee affairs.
President Kenyatta, who met the two leaders separately at the Great Hall of the People, also walked away with more funding for infrastructure projects including $ 161 million (Sh16.5 billion) for the construction of the Nairobi Western bypass.
The Chinese government also supported Kenya’s request for $3.59 billion (Sh369 billion) from the Exim Bank of China for the construction of the third phase of the SGR from Naivasha to Malaba through Kisumu.
The plane carrying President Kenyatta and the First Lady landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport shortly after midnight.
They were received by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Samson Mwathethe, among other senior Government officials.