Monday, June 24, 2024

Revitalized Deals and Opportunities for American Firms in US-Kenya Trade Relations

Analysis of US-Kenya Deals: A Closer Look at the Recent Investments

President of Kenya Returns from US Trip with $57.1M Investment in Digital and Technology

The President of Kenya recently returned from a 4-day tour in the US with a bag of goodies, including a significant investment of $57.1 million (KES 7.44 billion) in the digital and technology sector. The news of this investment has sparked excitement in Kenya, with many hopeful for the potential benefits it could bring to the country.

However, a closer look at the deals reveals some nuances that have left many Kenyans questioning the true nature of the US-Kenya agreements. It turns out that some of the deals announced during the President’s trip were not actually new. In fact, some of them had been proposed as far back as a year ago, with submission deadlines that had already passed.

Furthermore, most of the funds disbursed as part of these deals come with a condition that a US firm must be contracted for the relevant work. This has raised concerns about whether the investment will truly benefit Kenya or if it will simply result in money moving from one US pocket to another.

For example, announcements regarding the expansion of fiber backbone and access networks mentioned grants for feasibility studies that had proposal submission deadlines in 2023. Similarly, grants for projects such as the construction of a wholesale open access fiber optic network also specify that the work must be carried out by a US company.

One of the more intriguing aspects of the deals is the involvement of companies like CSquared Link Holdings, which is registered in Mauritius and is co-owned by entities such as Google and the International Finance Corporation. The projects announced, including a 100% geothermal-powered data center, are not entirely new and have been in the pipeline for some time.

Despite the nuances and conditions attached to the US-Kenya deals, there is optimism that the investments will ultimately benefit Kenya’s digital drive and infrastructure development. It remains to be seen how these projects will unfold and whether Kenyan firms and workers will truly benefit from the funds.

In the meantime, the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) are ensuring that the investments align with their mandate to create jobs and export US goods and services to emerging economies. The opening of a DFC office in Nairobi signals a continued commitment to overseeing the utilization of funds in Kenya.

Overall, the hope is that the US-Kenya deals will pave the way for tangible benefits for Kenya and its citizens in the digital and technology sectors. Only time will tell if these agreements will indeed bring about the promised advancements and opportunities for Kenya’s digital future.

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