On December 17, 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya announced that the country will host the next Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. On the same day, terrorists seized a police vehicle in Kenya’s coastal county of Lamu. It was never clearer than at that moment that the country was in the midst of two major movements: (1) the economic opportunity by overseas investors, and (2) unrelenting terrorism.
The Prospect of Foreign Investment
Kenya has the potential to experience an economic resurgence, especially with the upcoming meeting announced by the country’s President that is set for November 2017. The meeting will focus on bridging the gaps between governments’ development goals.
While already a strong regional trading power, the country now positions itself to garner more interest from foreign partners. The local trade deficit is diminishing after Kenyan trade policy was liberalized in the 1980s and 1990s. Kenya’s manufacturing sector that is becoming a force to reckon with too.
Mombasa, Kenya’s largest seaport, is a crucial factor in the potential improvement of Kenya’s economy. Currently, it is a trading center for East Africa and parts of Central Africa. With its advantageous location between the Gulf of Aden and South Africa, the port is growing to be a major trading hub, with its cargo volume up about 10 percent between January and September of 2015.
The Issue of Terrorism
Unfortunately, terrorist attacks from the North threaten to undermine the economic growth that is being seen in Kenya. The Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab continues to organize attacks in the country, almost weekly. The assaults began after the Kenyan armed forces participated in the Somali conflict in 2011, on behalf of the African Union.
Attacks orchestrated by the Al-Shabaab include car bombings and over 200 casualties at the 2013 Westgate shopping mall, to name just a few. As Al-Shabaab’s position has worsened in Somalia, the organization has focused its sights south in Kenya, creating many security problems for Kenyan officials, who also are facing a rise of attempted nuclear smugglings.
Threats to Kenya’s Economy
The closeness between the powerful Al-Shabaab terrorist organization and Kenya’s trading framework is a big concern. The supply routes and connections in place may be in jeopardy, which can break down Kenya’s entire economy unless trade controls and counter-terrorism strategies are put in place soon.