Economy

Kenyans most optimistic in the world about Biden's presidency

biden

US President Joe Biden signs executive orders at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States on January 20, 2021. PHOTO | REUTERS

brianngugi_img

Summary

  • Mr Biden in December conveyed his interest in "building on the strong and lasting partnership between his country and Kenya" across a variety of issues affecting both countries following his election win.
  • Mr Biden made the promise in a telephone call with his Kenyan counterpart President Kenyatta.
  • All eyes will be on the new Biden administration as Kenya awaits it's position on a proposed new trade deal initiated by the Donald Trump administration with Nairobi before the expiry of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa).

Most Kenyans have high expectations of what the new United States President Joe Biden administration will accomplish for them than they anticipated in the former President Donald Trump’s regime, a new global poll released recently suggests.

The poll by British international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm YouGov ranks Kenyans as the most optimistic foreign citizens about the global leadership of President  Biden. 

German political foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York (FES) commissioned YouGov to field a survey of twelve countries including Kenya.

The survey included several questions measuring public opinion toward former US President Donald Trump and President Biden.

"Countries around the world give Joe Biden high net approval ratings. This includes 89 percent approval in Kenya, 73 percent in Germany, 69 percent in South Africa, 66 percent in Indonesia, 66 percent in Mexico," says the Poll.

Approximately 1,000 respondents from Kenya alongside Brazil, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, and the US were polled in the study.

Kenya has formally struck an optimistic tone toward President Biden's new administration with President Uhuru Kenyatta terming Biden as "a friend of Kenya" whose last visit to the country while serving as vice-president under former US President Barack Obama helped "renew the Kenya-USA ties."

"Hello, my name is Joe Biden. I work for Barack Obama. Now, I know no one in Kenya is familiar with Barack Obama, but I can tell you although for years as a United States senator, I had -- I was on a committee called the Foreign Relations Committee, the chairman, and did a lot of work relating to Africa, I hear about Kenya all the time from Barack Obama. He sends his love to you, not just your love to him," Mr Biden said in a speech to University Students at the KICC in Nairobi, June 2010 highlighting Obama's Kenyan roots.

This history, Mr Kenyatta, has said, presents "an even bigger and better platform for the two countries to collaborate more closely for the prosperity of their people."

Mr Biden in December conveyed his interest in "building on the strong and lasting partnership between his country and Kenya" across a variety of issues affecting both countries following his election win.

Mr Biden made the promise in a telephone call with his Kenyan counterpart President Kenyatta.

Biden0806a

In this file photo taken on June 8,2010, President Joe Biden chats with former President Mwai Kibaki (second right), Prime Minister Raila Odinga (left) and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka (right). FILE PHOTO | NMG

All eyes will be on the new Biden administration as Kenya awaits it's position on a proposed new trade deal initiated by the Donald Trump administration with Nairobi before the expiry of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa), which allows sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the US without tariffs or quotas until 2025.

“We appreciate what has been achieved through Agoa, but it is time we moved to much closer trade arrangements that are mutually beneficial. We will not lose focus on concluding the FTA,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said recently when he bid farewell to outgoing US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter at State House, Nairobi.

Agoa grants 40 African States quota and duty-free access to the US market of more than 6,000 product lines. Statistics showed that the two-way goods trade between these nations totalled Sh106 billion in 2019, up 4.9 per cent from 2018.

The Biden administration is also expected to bolster Kenya's antiterrorism efforts that Mr Biden highlighted during his visit to Kenya in 2010 when he served as Vice President under former US President Barack Obama's administration. 

The US and Kenya are allies in the fight against al-Shabab, that has staged numerous attacks in Kenya, including the mass killing of students at Garissa University and the 2013 attack on Nairobi's Westgate Mall. 

Kenya has sent troops to Somalia, where the US has carried out drone strikes against the extremists. The US military recently said its troop withdrawal from Somalia is complete, in one of the last actions of President Donald Trump’s presidency. 

Some experts have warned that the withdrawal of an estimated 700 US military personnel comes at the worst possible time for Somalia, as the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group improves its bomb-making skills and continues to attack military and civilian targets even in the capital.

President Biden has begun his term in office by reversing many of former President Trump's hardline immigration policies.

President Biden is expected to try to reverse much of Trump's immigration legacy including travel bans on 13 countries that are either majority-Muslim or African nations.
He has also said he would raise the annual ceiling for refugee admissions to 125,000, but has not indicated how quickly that would happen.

UN data shows 2,636 Somali refugees have so far been resettled in the United States under the present administration against the 32,068 Somali refugees accepted under the second term of former President Barack Obama.