Bilateral relations between Germany and Kenya have a long history. When Kenya achieved independence in 1963, Germany was the first country to grant diplomatic recognition to the young state. To this very day, Germany and Kenya enjoy close political, economic and cultural relations – as Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stressed following his talks with his Kenyan counterpart Amina Mohamed.
Steinmeier singled out Kenya’s economic progress as a particular anchor of stability: European and German companies often conducted their entire East African operations from headquarters in Kenya. He announced that a business delegation led by former German President Horst Köhler was expected to travel to Kenya later this year, enticing yet more German businesses to the region. Foreign Secretary Mohamed affirmed that Kenya wanted to attract more German companies and investors. She also expressed the hope that German support and partnership would be forthcoming with respect to the development of her country and the region.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier sees Kenya as proof that one should not only think of crises and conflicts when Africa is mentioned:
Kenya is a good illustration of the fact that Africa is changing quicker than European perceptions of the continent. We still view Africa as a continent plagued by crises and conflicts. And although it does have plenty of those, that’s not the whole picture. If we were to look at a large swathe of East Africa, for example, we could not overlook the emergence of anchors of stability such as Kenya, anchors we need to deal with the trouble spots.
Other issues: Somalia and South Sudan
He noted that Kenya was, for example, trying to use its influence in Somalia in order to foster stability in the country. Developments in South Sudan were also discussed by the two foreign policy heads. Steinmeier and Mohamed both expressed their hope that the agreements reached in Addis Ababa would bring lasting peace to the still young country. Mohamed said that the biggest challenge in this context was the tense humanitarian situation: it was vital to create humanitarian corridors to enable refugees and internally displaced persons to return home as quickly as possible.
The German Foreign Minister concluded by repeating that, given the continent’s diffuse image, the German Government, too, needed to readjust its focus on today’s Africa. A first step is to be taken the week after next, when officials from various ministries will gather in the Federal Foreign Office to discuss diverse facets of modern Africa – including current trouble spots but also anchors of regional stability such as Kenya.