U.S., Kenya ink investment commitments to deepen partnership on state visit

By Paul Godfrey & Ehren Wynder
U.S. President Joe Biden (R) and William Ruto, Kenya's president, attend a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Photo by Al Drago/UPI
1 of 10 | U.S. President Joe Biden (R) and William Ruto, Kenya's president, attend a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

May 23 (UPI) -- The White House released details Thursday for a raft of agreements including at least $470 million worth of government-private investment and finance with Kenya's President William Ruto on day two of his state visit to Washington.

Much of the investment will go to help the East African nation's green energy transition, housing, health -- including developing the pharma manufacturing sector -- and promoting democracy and human rights.


During a tour by Ruto of Coca-Cola's Atlanta headquarters Wednesday, the company announced a new $175 million investment in his country over the next five years, while Virunga Power announced a $100 million plan for six run-of-river hydropower projects to provide 31 megawatts of renewable energy to power growth in west and central Kenya, the White House said in a briefing.

Ruto's state visit, only the sixth leader to whom President Joe Biden has extended the honor in his three years in the White House, marks six decades of U.S.-Kenya friendship and comes amid an effort to progress partnerships with African nations into more equitable relationships with greater long-term benefits for both sides.


"Together, the United States and Kenya are working to deliver on the challenges that matter most to our people's lives: health security, economic security, cybersecurity, and climate security," Biden said in a speech welcoming Ruto, while noting 90% of Kenya's electricity comes from clean energy.

A statement from the White House noted that the two leaders' agenda showcases "how our ties deliver tangible benefits to the people of our nations" in areas including democracy, human rights and governance, health, climate, trade and Investment, debt, development and sustainable finance, technology, and peace and security.

Biden also informed Congress he intends to designate Kenya as a "Major Non-NATO Ally."

According to the White House, the designation is granted to "countries with close and strategic working relationships with the U.S. military and defense civilians."

It noted it was the first such designation of any sub-Saharan African nation.

"Around the world, Kenya and America are also standing united against the terror of ISIS and al-Shabaab perpetrate in East Africa -- that they continue to perpetrate in East Africa; the aggression that Russia is inflicting on Ukraine; the violence that has toppled too many democracies across both our regions," Biden said.

On Capitol Hill, Ruto held talks with congressional leaders including Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as well as House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La.


He also met with the Congressional Black Caucus which granted him honorary membership and where he made a plea for democratization of the global financial system and debt relief.

"Kenya recognizes the special role that the Congressional Black Caucus continues to play in advancing social justice, human rights and economic development across the globe. We implore the Congress to take lead in reconfiguring the global financial architecture where power is not in the hands of the few," Ruto said.

"A bold, robust and targeted approach will free Africa of the debt burden and transform the world."

Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto are due to be guests of honor at a starlit state dinner with Biden and first lady Jill Biden later Thursday to be held in the White House's glass pavilion on the south lawn and featuring a performance under night skies by country star Brad Paisley

"We mark the 60th anniversary of the United States' partnership with Kenya with an elegant dinner under the stars in a pavilion made almost entirely of glass looking at our one sky," the first lady told reporters Wednesday.

Mrs. Biden said the pavilion would feature "warm pinks and reds," as well as an unobstructed line of sight of the White House and Washington Monument.


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