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Advancing Both U.S. and Kenyan Economic Interests in Transportation, Healthcare, and Infrastructure

July 26, 2018

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This is the second blog in a series of posts highlighting a four-nation President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) fact-finding mission led by U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Gilbert Kaplan. For more information on the PAC-DBIA visit https://www.trade.gov/dbia/ or follow the trip on social media at #PACDBIA.

Judy Lao is a Trade Facilitation Officer in the Office of Latin America & Caribbean.

Did you know that Kenya is the seventh-largest export market in Sub-Saharan Africa? This means more opportunities for U.S. businesses looking to reach new and emerging markets. This also made it the perfect stop on our two-week PAC-DBIA fact-finding mission! After an impactful three days in Ethiopia, the delegation of U.S. companies and U.S. government agencies landed in Nairobi, Kenya.

The trip began with a luncheon hosted by Kenya Airways, the country’s national carrier. In partnership with U.S. aviation companies Boeing and GE, Kenya Airways highlighted the much-anticipated inaugural non-stop flight from Nairobi to New York that is scheduled for October 28, 2018. This reflects the increasing bilateral economic and commercial ties between the United States and Kenya. The partnership between Kenya Airways and Boeing opens the door for other U.S. aviation companies to get involved and invest in Kenya Airways.

Another way that economic and commercial ties between Kenya and the United States are being advanced is through a series of commercial deal signings at the AmCham Big Four Conference. The conference is a platform for discussion on joint aspiration, challenges, and practical solutions through which American businesses can support the realization of Kenya’s “Big Four” economic agenda. Kenya’s Big Four Agenda focuses on several key areas, including agriculture (food security), infrastructure development (affordable housing), health (universal healthcare coverage), and industrialization (manufacturing). The commercial deals signed at the conference were the results of intensive advocacy services, commercial diplomacy, and business-to-business meetings between U.S. firms and local partners facilitated by the Commercial Service team in Kenya.

Throughout the visit, Under Secretary Kaplan encouraged the improvement and the advancement of both U.S. and Kenyan economic interests in healthcare. Varian Medical Systems, a PAC-DBIA member, signed a $20 million deal with Mediheal Hospital. Varian will equip five Mediheal Cancer Centers across Kenya with oncology treatments. Varian will also establish an education center of excellence that will provide training for clinical personnel. This effort is the largest project dedicated to cancer treatment in Kenya, and will benefit approximately 3,200 Kenyan cancer patients per year. By supplying critically needed health service and technical training to Kenya, this deal is a notable example of how the United States is helping Kenya reach its “Big Four” initiative of providing affordable and high-quality healthcare to all.

Under Secretary Kaplan concluded the trip by paying his respect to those who died in the August 7, 1998, bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, including two ITA employees. A wreath laying was held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the bombing that took the lives of 213 people and injured 4,000 more. Under Secretary Kaplan personally met with the widows of two ITA Foreign Service National (FSN) staff who lost their lives, and a Commerce FSN who survived but was injured. The wreath laying was an important reminder that the people of the Foreign Service dedicate their lives to the service of our country.

During a meeting with the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Henry Rotich, Under Secretary Kaplan signed the U.S.-Kenya Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote U.S. commercial participation and investment between the two countries. The U.S.-Kenya MOU will focus collaboration between the U.S. and Kenyan Governments to attract and support American companies to provide the goods, services, and investment required to achieve the Big Four goals and to build critical infrastructure in Kenya. This is an update to the previous MOU executed in 2015 that had focused exclusively on infrastructure.

The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration is committed to advancing new policies that will benefit the economic and social welfare both in the United States and with its partners in trade, such as Kenya. For more information on our programs or to find an office near you, contact us.