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Biden To Designate Kenya As Major Non-NATO Ally

US President Joe Biden is set to designate Kenya as a major non-NATO ally during the three-day state visit of Kenyan President William Ruto this week. This move, disclosed by a source familiar with the plans, will make Kenya the first sub-Saharan African country to receive this designation, underscoring Washington’s intention to strengthen ties with the East African nation.

‘Kenya’s designation reflects our commitment to deepening our strategic partnership,’ Biden remarked as he welcomed President Ruto to the White House for a meeting with business executives. ‘I plan to visit Africa in February, following the US presidential election,’ he added.

The two leaders are scheduled for further discussions in the Oval Office on Thursday, followed by a joint news conference and a state dinner. Senior administration officials have confirmed that their talks will cover a broad range of issues, including trade, debt relief, and global concerns such as Haiti, Ukraine, and Sudan.


During a Wednesday announcement, Biden revealed plans to launch a new era of technology cooperation between the US and Kenya, encompassing cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and semiconductors. However, he did not mention the security designation at that time.

In addition to the strategic designation, the US will announce $250 million in new investments through the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), expanding its portfolio in Kenya to over $1bn. ‘Both nations are committed to ensuring technology advances transparency, accountability, and human rights,’ a US official stated.

Kenya has emerged as a significant innovation hub, boasting the $1bn ‘Silicon Savannah’ technology centre, home to over 200 startups in sectors like clean energy, microelectronics, financial technology, and e-commerce. ‘Like the United States, Kenya has become an engine for innovation,’ the official added.

President Biden’s designation of Kenya as a major non-NATO ally coincides with Kenya’s preparations to send forces to Haiti as part of a UN-led mission to address the security crisis in the Caribbean. This status, granted to close non-NATO allies with strategic military relationships with the US, aligns with recent moves to bolster Kenya’s cooperation on regional security, including efforts in Somalia.

The White House has not provided an immediate comment on the designation. However, Gyude Moore, head of the Africa Initiative at the Centre for Global Development, highlighted Kenya’s reliability as a US partner amid South Africa’s independent foreign policy stance. Cameron Hudson, a fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, noted that this formalises Kenya’s closer alignment with US interests. ‘It’s very significant. No other sub-Saharan African country has it,’ he emphasised.

In March, Biden designated Qatar as a major non-NATO ally, fulfilling an earlier promise, further demonstrating his administration’s strategic re-alignments on the global stage.

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