France and Kenya

Political relations

  • Meetings of Heads of State: EU-Africa Summit in April 2014, official visit by President Kenyatta to Paris (April 2016).
  • Visits to Kenya: Minister of Foreign Trade (2012); Minister of State for Development and Francophonie (April 2015); Minister of State for Foreign Trade (June 2015); Minister of the Environment (April 2016); Minister of Foreign Affairs (August 2016).
  • About 20 Kenyan Ministers visited France between 2003 and 2011, including: Minister of Justice (2012); Minister of Tourism (2012); Minister of Defence for the Elysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa (December 2013); Minister of Foreign Affairs (November 2014-2016).

Economic relations

The bilateral French-Kenyan economic relationship is not very extensive (French market share: 1.4%) but it is dynamic:

  • Kenya is France’s largest customer in the East African Community.
  • French exports to Kenya have grown over the past ten years, from an average of €144 million in 2006-2008 to an average of €163 million in 2013-2015, posting a 14% increase. They are driven by four main sectors: chemical products, industrial equipment and machines, agrifood products and transport equipment, which account for +/- 75% of all French exports to Kenya.
  • The interest of French companies in Kenya as a productive investment destination is growing. The number of French companies with offices has doubled in five years (+/-70 in 2016). The return of Peugeot is a perfect example, but other French companies have made the move over the past five years, including Schneider Electric, L’Oréal, Danone, Essilor, Bonduelle, OCEA, Vinci, Egis, Accor, Sodexho, and others such as Dassault Systèmes, Société Générale, and Michelin are thinking of doing so.
  • With a FDI stock that accounts for 10% of all FDI stock in Kenya in 2015 (tripled in 10 years), France is the 4th biggest investor in Kenya.

Cooperation

France is technically no longer a donor to Kenya (donations account for less than 1% of French financial commitments) but it plays a leading role in financing its development and has become the 2ndlargest bilateral donor behind China. Kenya is the sub-Saharan African country that receives the largest amount of sovereign loans. Total AFD commitments to Kenya since 1997 amount to €1.5 billion. They are mainly in the sectors of energy (50%), water and sanitation, transport and urban development.

France’s bilateral cooperation is focused on higher education, which is a government priority. A scientific cooperation agreement was signed in May 2015 with the Ministry of Education. In this connection, academic cooperation is increasing: Kenya Day, organized in March 2016 in French universities; promotional tours of French top graduate schools (grandes écoles) in Kenya (2014-2015, around forty schools visited, and 3,000 students informed), where the first university meetings were held in October 2016.

The robust French-Kenyan cooperation can be seen in the promotion of the French language, the most taught foreign language in Kenya: 400 teachers, 31,000 students (24,000 in secondary schools, 7,000 in higher education institutions). There is a Lycée Français in Kenya (650 students representing 53 nationalities), 22 French language resource centres and two Alliances Françaises in Nairobi (3,000 French language students) and Mombasa.

Updated: 6 June 2017

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