Why President Uhuru’s international standing matters

Written By: Jackson Ochogo
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Splendid isolation was a phrase used during the 19th-century for the British diplomatic practice of staying away from any “dangerous alliances”. 

The age-old Brits often referred to themselves as fish, swimming alone in their sea with no one that they need bring on board or partner with.  However, their colonialist enterprise which at one point dominated one quarter of the world, shows that even at the height of their isolationist thought, they knew they must engage with the world.

Today, we are in a very different reality. We are in a global interconnected world, whereby isolationism is not an option.

On Thursday, President Kenyatta made his 92nd foreign trip as the sovereign representative of Kenya.  I have read many columns criticising this fact. They claim that in a Country which still suffers from poverty, how can it be that our President travels so frequently?

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In 2019, Uhuru Kenyatta is seen by the world as a representative of Africa, not just Kenya. He speaks for the continent at the G7.  The platform is real. This brings crucial confidence to businesses and investors who see Kenya as a beacon of hope and stability in a continent still full of hopelessness and instability.

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His status is such that during one particularly busy week of diplomacy, in just seven days, President Kenyatta met with the Prime Minister of Britain, Theresa May; US President, Donald Trump, and Chinese President, XI Jinping.

This is important for trade, for FDI, and for tourism.

By cooperating closely with Switzerland for example, hundreds of millions of Shillings stolen and hidden there has been recovered.

Unsolved scandals will receive a new degree of transparency, something which can only be realised through deep and trusting diplomatic relations.

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According to the Swiss national bank, 96 billion Shillings have been stashed away in their country through various means.  And this time, the Swiss are not just talking. Last year we saw the repatriation of a total of $1.2 billion to Nigeria.

In the field of security, his trips to the US, Israel, India, the UAE and Jordan have all included counter terrorism cooperation. Our KDF is now receiving the most advanced technologies and the most sophisticated training to tackle the ongoing al-Shabaab threat.

In Jordan, for example, over 100 Kenya Defence Forces troops from elite units took part in high level joint specialised counter-terrorism courses.

Our officers worked on strategies and tactics to deal with conventional and asymmetric war threats.

The KDF’s two elite units – Special Forces and Ranger Regiment – were part of the joint training with Jordan’s Quick Reaction Force.

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But let’s not forget that the KDF also trains closely with the Israelis, using their advanced – and tried and tested – equipment and techniques.  So, Uhuru’s deft diplomacy and foreign travels enables the KDF to get the best from both the Israelis and the Arabs; no easy feat!

Then there are the massive training exercises held on Kenyan soil with British forces.  These exercises not only allow our boys to train with some of the finest military forces on the planet, the April 2017 exercise is worth around $57 million to our local economy.

So next time our president gets on a plane, don’t ask what our country is doing for Uhuru. Ask what Uhuru is doing for our country.

The views expressed in this article don’t necessary represent KBC’s opinion. 

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