What is at stake for Kenya in American presidential poll


US President Donald Trump (left) and Democratic presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden. AFP PHOTO



  • The winner of the election may impact Kenya-America economic integration that is projected to grow deeper with new agreements in the coming years.
  • The United States’ current Sh243.5 billion relationship with Kenya comprises 2.8 per cent of Kenya’s economy with the US.

Today, I will be reflecting on the Kenya-American alliance with a live event at 2pm on Zoom for our loyal readers, details below. As part of that alliance, a significant tectonic shift in global business affairs looms on the horizon next week.

The potential election of the century will take place in the United States. The anti-globalisation and anti-free trade, yet pro-Kenya, “America First” conservative positions of US President Donald Trump stands up against pro-globalisation and pro-free trade liberal stances of former Vice-President Joe Biden.

The winner of the election may impact Kenya-America economic integration that is projected to grow deeper with new agreements in the coming years. The United States’ current Sh243.5 billion relationship with Kenya comprises 2.8 per cent of Kenya’s economy with the US.

Trade Representative estimates that the two nations share Sh100+ billion in bilateral trade, fluctuating Sh50 to Sh100 billion of official development assistance, and Sh43.5 billion in American investment in Kenya.

Kenya thrives as a bigger beneficiary of US trade as we export Sh64.4 billion to them, but only import Sh36.5 billion from them, which proves in Kenya’s favour. The World Bank estimates that America is the third-largest recipient of Kenyan exports following Uganda and Pakistan. The American trading relationship stands in stark contrast to Kenya’s largest trading partner after Uganda, China, which receives only Sh10.9 billion of Kenya’s exports but Kenya imports Sh366 billion of Chinese goods and services.

So, Kenya stands at a Sh356 billion net loss with China, but a Sh27.9 billion net gain with the United States. Kenya values different types of sector development partners. The partnership with America yields aid that comes largely as grants mostly to Kenya’s health sector, whereby the partnership with China generates aid that arrives largely in the form of debt for sizable infrastructure projects, as a comparison.

Beyond the economics of trade, the United States and Kenya share significant cultural ties which could be affected by the outcome of the elections.

The University of Kansas details that 51 per cent of all immigrants to the United States are from Africa. A Pew Research Center poll found that the most educated Africans who decide to migrate choose America instead of Europe, Asia, or other destinations.

Specifically, Kenyan immigrants in America are some of the most successful immigrant categories in the United States. Kenyans in the US have a higher percentage of university degrees than all categories of white, black, Asian, or Latino Americans individually or combined with Kenyans 1.5 times more likely to hold a university or post-graduate degrees (47 per cent) than American-born Americans themselves (31 per cent).

The Pew Research Center also delineates that 111,000 Kenyans live in the United States. The United Nations estimates that Kenya’s high levels of English competency contribute to such phenomenal educational and economic success rates of Kenyans in America.

On the other side, the US Embassy in Nairobi estimates that more than 20,000 Americans call Kenya home.

Thousands of those are Kenyan-born citizens who also hold American citizenship from the time they spent studying, living, or working overseas. But also, thousands of American-born citizens who migrated to Kenya and fell in love with the culture and climate.

The above long-standing cross-country exchange leads to extensive culture sharing. Kenyans are often some of the most popular students on American university campuses. Kenyan humour with its edgy, self-deprecation and situational relatability thrives as world-class. As a diplomatic example, American television coverage of Kenya trade meeting negotiations in Washington DC showed Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta using Kenyan quick-witted humour with US President Donald Trump and American cabinet secretaries to drop their barriers and engage with them. Inasmuch, Kenya is finalising the first free trade agreement with the United States of any other sub-Saharan African nation.

Americans in the past 15 years have also become more aware of Kenya being more than just the stereotype of a major destination for marathon runners and fantastic wildlife. The Kenyan heritage of popular US President Barack Obama, greater Kenyan migration to America, and the proliferation of social media and peer lending websites like have helped Americans gain a more realistic and accurate understanding of Kenya.

In celebration of the Kenyan-American partnership, the Business Daily in partnership with USIU-Africa and the US Embassy in Nairobi will hold an open colloquium for those interested in learning about the nuances of the American electoral process. Topics for TODAY, October 29 at 2pm, include the American presidential electoral process, history of black citizens in American elections, Kenyan-Americans in this year’s election, and a real absentee ballot with a live audience mock vote. The Zoom meeting ID is 954 8064 9836 with the password Election20 for those interested in joining the free event.

Dr. Scott may be reached on [email protected] or on Twitter: @ScottProfessor