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Brussels finds some friends in Nairobi

Trying to win over Anglophone governments ahead of their grand regional summit, EU officials have been offering deals to Kenya

The European Union wants to agree a 'strategic partnership' with Africa at a summit next month. Now, it has identified Kenya as a key target (AC Vol 63 No 3, EU offers new migration deal & La francophonie grabs the focus).

The EU will no longer be a 'donor but a trading partner' with Kenya, said EU foreign affairs supremo Josep Borrell following a two-day visit to Kenya.

'We have been having, the European Union and Kenya, a long-standing relationship. But we are no longer the donor of development aid. We are a strategic partner,' Borrell told a joint press conference with his Kenyan counterpart Raychelle Omano in Nairobi at the weekend.

The 'Strategic Dialogue' will cover peace and security in the region, fighting poverty through trade and investment, environmental conservation, climate change, defending democracy and the rule of law, and human rights. There will also be an additional $361 million in funding from Brussels.

With less than three weeks before the EU –African Union summit in Brussels, the move appears timed to answer critics who had accused European Council President Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron of having focused too heavily on leaders from Francophone Africa in the preparations for the summit.

When questioned by local reporters what 'partnership' offers Kenya in tangible terms, Borrell took an apparent swipe at China for Africa's heavy indebtedness to it (AC Vol 62 No 14, Digging deeper into debt). 'Financing infrastructure requires debt and it has a limit,' he said.  'Every country has a limit on their debt capacity and we have to be very careful not to push countries to assume level of debts that can be unsustainable.'

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