Why the British government needs Kenya


On Wednesday last week, the United Kingdom House of Commons had a substantive discussion about the current state of affairs in Kenya for over one and a half hours. The discussion, chaired by Peter Bone, a Conservative Party politician and Member of Parliament for Wellingborough, was not just an ordinary discussion but a critical one as it will largely sharp how the British government will interact with President-elect Uhuru if the Supreme Court upholds his win.

The discussion comes amid an intense public debate before the General Election that the British government would slap sanctions against Kenya if Kenyans voted in Uhuru as their president and accusations that the British government was covertly supporting the CORD coalition.

In fact, as noted by Eric Joyce, MP for Falkirk and mover of the motion on Kenya, it is these feelings of foreign forces interfering with the Kenyans choice of who to vote for that made some Kenyans solidly back Uhuru’s presidency. According to him, the election results, if confirmed by the Supreme Court, are a form of strong statement by Kenyans that if they were required to choose between sovereign self-determination and the patronage of foreign powers, they would choose the former.

Kenya and Britain have shared strong relations economically, politically and culturally and unlike before where Kenya appeared just like a dependant of Britain, the ground has tilted as elaborated by the discussants in this parliamentary session.

The relation between Kenya and Britain is now symbiotic not parasitic. The strategic position and significance of Kenya towards the British government and people’s interests cannot be wished away. As noted by Eric Joyce, “British government needs to recognise that Kenya is far too important to be treated as if it were a minor and strategically unimportant state.”

The strategic interests that Kenya has towards Britain are many and indispensable as discussed. The Kenya Defence Forces defeat of the Al Shabaab and securing Mogadishu is credited for helping to restore sanity in Somalia.

With a Somalia country that is on a road to recovery, we now have British private equity investors who are interested in investing in Mogadishu. In fact, this interest by the British to invest in Mogadishu is more that of Kenyans who have largely stabilized Somalia.

Moreover, the Kenyan government support in fighting international terrorism in the sea lines did not go unnoticed in this debate. Further, over 10,000 British army soldiers also access unrivalled training facilities in Laikipia Kenya, and this has helped them while launching their military operations in countries like Afghanistan.

The support of Kenya with these facilities is credited for British army ability to mount operation while defending Falkland Islands 30 years ago.

In addition, as discussed by Alistair Burt, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, the United Kingdom is the largest commercial investor in Kenya and home to half of the top 10 tax-paying companies in Kenya. Obviously, when British companies make profits in Kenya, it’s a win for both Kenya and Britain. Kenya wins because these companies pay taxes and create jobs and for Britain, the remitted profits are used to build their country.

Unlike what the local and international doomsayers have been peddling, the House of Commons do not see at all any need to sanction Kenya or even isolate Uhuru Kenyatta if he is confirmed the President by the Supreme Court.

They actually want the British government to cooperate with Kenyatta even more despite him facing charges at the International Criminal Court. They see great economic opportunities in Kenya, as stated by Jim Shannon and are afraid that British government and people will lose out these opportunities to the Chinese.

In fact, Jim Shannon is concerned that despite British people having construction skills, it’s the Chinese who are doing massive road construction in Kenya. He actually states, “We should be doing that sort of construction work in Kenya. No disrespect to the Chinese, but why are we not there?” Despite doing business in Kenya, they also do not want to lose influence in any part of Africa and particularly in Kenya towards the Chinese.

In a nutshell, the House of Commons would want their government to work closely with Kenyatta and their share the same view with the New York Times, the most influential newspaper in the United States which stated earlier that the US and Europe should “work with” a government in Kenya headed by President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta.

Nevertheless, Alistair Burt was categorically that the United Kingdom will not reduce its cooperation with Kenya even if Kenyatta is confirmed the President and strongly rebutted claims that UK has threatened sanctions against Kenya before. Actually, Burt agrees with Eric Joyce that a more secure Kenya means a more secured United Kingdom.

(Dann Mwangi is a lawyer and researcher at CPS Research International)

14 Replies to “Why the British government needs Kenya”

  1. we’ll said but Mwangi… overally you sound as if you’re talking on a TNA platform. What happened to objective journalism?

    1. This is a blog post my friend. Mwangi is not a journalist reporting facts, but expressing an opinion. In any case, you can visit the house of common website and read the hansard yourself.

  2. @ mark kureso. Mwangi has summarized the debate accurately. I read the Hansard report for 20th March and this was the exact mood in the House as speaker after speaker rose to express the very same sentiments. There were no dissenting voices, so is Dann Mwangi supposed to spice up the report to sensationalize it so as to please you and your ilk? Eeeeeeish!

  3. nice article there dann. i also read your previous article on ‘why CJ should sit out of the petition’. can you please write an article on ‘why Justice Mohammed Ibrahim should sit out since his law firm was a join partnership with IEBC chair Isaac Hassan’. please

  4. The British did not ‘Defend’ the Falkland Islands they threw the Argentinians out 30 years ago. If you think British army training in Kenya was vital to that war you are from another planet. The fact is we need a good relationship with Britain, many of us work for British companies that have invested in Kenya. The Chinese are our problem for the future all we have done is got in debt to them and they are after African raw materials and oil on the cheap.

  5. ahaaaaaa!!!!,kumbe nyie wakenya hamjitegemei kwa maamuzi yenu binafsi!,Kama uhuru amechaguliwa na wakenya,haya ya ubritish yanatoka wapi? muachen afanye kazi rais wenu hawa jamaa hawana mpya yeyote!this means that even your government’s decision depends on the foreign countries especially UK and US on the internal matters for the kenyans which is not good.

  6. Dann Mwangi…ur ar-tickle is very ‘patriotic’ but it seems you don’t fully understand geopolitics…If you took a walk in the Kenya Railways yard and went to their dry docks in Kisumu…you’d realise what a mighty empire you’re trivialising:All these plus the Msa port and all the dams we use in Nairobi were small projects that the British bequeathed us without much thinking. The UK army is spoilt for choices for military training; including Saudi Arabia!! What the UK had in Kenya in the 60’s was even more massive than what they have here now: have we even laid a new railway system? You need to have a perspective of scales…Kenya is a minute economy…Our Mombasa port cannot even accomodate world class ships(checkout chinese ports)…they dock in the high seas and send boats ashore…Thanks to UK foreign policy that is fairly benign…But you’re wrong to assume that the UK needs us more than we need them..May I put this humbly: kindly look for a scholarship and go study in the UK for more than a year: then you would have the right scale perspective. I hate to say this Mr. Mwangi but it is true; the west is thousands of years ahead of us…It is thanks to the US drones that we walked over Somalia..

  7. Kenya and being Kenyans only applies when your tribe is doing the eating!! All those singing patriotic songs are those who now believe they own the stakes…myopia of the highest order!!

  8. Alhamdu lillaahi when reflecting upon more than 50 years after Kenya is the best and will remain the best sources for Kenyan along with other nations. Inshallah as from today Kenya need to think Kenyan first! Before thinking of others, No. ! first! Subhaanallah Kenya is a light for peace, unite security for all. Oh Allah may your name be magnified within by the people of Kenya. May your almighty supreme powers be embedded in Kenya, forgiveness and mercies wash anew our people oh Allah, Decree beneficial rain upon the land of Kenya/Africa wherever Kenyan let them “BE” the light that removes all darkness away bring good change for the benefits of all mankind oh, Allaahu Akbar!

  9. I am British and an investor in Kenya and patriotic sentiments are fine whatever your country. However I have been in industrial management and particularly production engineering for half a century. If Kenya wishes to industrialise then you need to appreciate that your main commodity is initially cheap labour. Countries like Japan and many who have since followed the Japanese model use the labour cost advantage initially to be competitive and then mechanise the means of production and increase wages and living standards. To achieve the 2030 goals the main competitor that African countries have is China with a vast poor population something like 75% of their people are poor and therefore cheap labour. Also China needs your raw materials, which when you industrialise you will need. So you are a market for their loans, a market for their products and a competitor when you increase your industrial production. Kenya and Africa need a wide base of friends, Europe including Britain are also interested in investing in production in areas where labour costs are lower (at least in the short term). So the thought that China and the far east is there to assist you in industrialising is a fallacy.

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