US President Donald Trump’s new top diplomat to Kenya, Mr Kyle McCarter, has put trade and security at the top of his priority list as he prepares to assume office next week.
Trade between the two States has trailed other traditional partners over the last decade while Nairobi has consistently accused Washington’s emissaries of spinning counter-terrorism intelligence to hurt its economy.
Mr McCarter, who has strong links with Kenya through charity, said ahead of return to Kenya as a diplomat that security cooperation between the two countries would rank high on list of his priorities.
"Terrorism is an issue, and national security is an issue — not just for Kenya, but it is in our best interest to protect Kenya and to keep Al-Shabaab from making its way into Kenya," McCarter was quoted saying after a farewell party organised for outgoing ambassador Robert Godec.
Mr McCarter and his wife Victoria have more than 30 years’ experience of handling charity work in Kenya.
He will depart for Nairobi on February 16, and is expected to assume office the following day.
He comes to Kenya as the economy smarts from recent security alerts issued to citizens of western nations by the US embassy.
So far it is claimed that a cruise ship has diverted its 400 occupants to the Seychelles following the Monday US embassy alert.
“They (trade and security) work together. One cannot succeed without the other. Trade secures the future while security the present,” Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau told the Business Daily.
“(The expectation for Kenya is) continued good relations to grow from strength to strength building on the excellent work of Ambassador Godec and his team.”
Experts say Mr McCarter will be faced with the daunting task of boosting the US leader’s image locally.
“He needs to help clean up Trump's image, help open up more business opportunities and direct exports of Kenyan products to the US, attract American investors and continue with joint anti-terror effort,” said Macharia Munene, a professor of history and international relations at the United States International University — Africa.
Mr McCarter will be the 17th ambassador to Kenya, succeeding Mr Godec who has served since 2012.
The first ambassador was journalist and author William Attwood.