U.S. Relations With Kenya

Bureau of African Affairs
Fact Sheet
September 4, 2018


More information about Kenya is available on the Kenya Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.

U.S.-KENYA RELATIONS

The United States established diplomatic relations with Kenya in 1964, following its December 1963 independence from the United Kingdom. The United States and Kenya have enjoyed cordial relations and an enduring partnership since Kenya's independence. Relations became closer after Kenya's democratic transition of 2002 and subsequent improvements in civil liberties. Longstanding mutual interests in the region and wide-ranging cooperation on economic and security issues underpin a strong bilateral relationship. As one of East Africa’s largest economies, Kenya is a growing business, financial, and transportation hub for the region, and U.S. investment in Kenya and bilateral trade are important elements of the U.S.-Kenya relationship. Ethnic-based political divisions, interference in key institutions, corruption, and impunity have posed challenges to Kenya’s democracy. In the wake of widespread violence following the disputed 2007 presidential election, Kenyans adopted a new constitution in a national referendum in August 2010, which mandated devolution of some political authority and funding to Kenya’s 47 counties. Kenya’s 2013 and 2017 elections were more peaceful, though concerns remain about the independence and credibility of democratic institutions and the government’s adherence to the rule of law.

U.S. Security Relationship with Kenya

The United States has a strategic interest in Kenya's security and stability, and that commitment is reflected in our partnership on regional and global security issues. The United States has four security assistance objectives in Kenya: 1) professionalize the Kenyan military forces; 2) increase Kenyan counterterrorism and border security capabilities; 3) increase maritime security awareness; and 4) improve peacekeeping capabilities. Our longstanding security assistance program is a cornerstone of the bilateral relationship

U.S. Assistance to Kenya

As an important developing partner in East Africa, Kenya is a significant recipient of U.S. foreign assistance. The United States seeks to advance its national security and economic prosperity interests by helping strengthen economic stability, security, health, education, environment, rule of law, and democratic governance in Kenya, as well as by countering violent extremism and combatting wildlife trafficking.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Kenya’s diversified economy has produced 5-6 percent annual GDP growth over the last decade, and an increasing number of American companies have established their regional or Africa-wide headquarters in Nairobi. Kenya remains East Africa’s largest and most important business, financial, and transportation hub, with 80 percent of East Africa’s trade flowing through Mombasa Port. The United States was the third largest destination for Kenya’s exports and the seventh largest source of its imports in 2017. The United States was the number one source of foreign tourist arrivals to Kenya in 2016 and 2017, with NY-Nairobi direct flights scheduled to begin October 28, 2018. U.S. private sector interest in Kenya remains robust with numerous American companies engaged in Kenya, especially in the technology, consumer services, banking, and finance sectors. Kenya enjoys preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and in late 2018 the two countries launched a U.S.-Kenya Trade and Investment Working Group to expand trade and investment. U.S. exports to Kenya include agricultural products, aircraft parts, and machinery. U.S. imports from Kenya include apparel, coffee, and tea. U.S. business investment is primarily in services, information technology, and the tourism industry. The United States also has signed trade and investment framework agreements with the East African Community and with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. Kenya is a member of both regional organizations.

Kenya's Membership in International Organizations

Kenya and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Kenya is Robert F. Godec. Other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Kenya maintains an embassy in the United States at 2249 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-387-6101).

More information about Kenya is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Kenya Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Kenya Page
U.S. Embassy
USAID Kenya Page
History of U.S. Relations With Kenya
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Country Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Millennium Challenge Corporation: Kenya
Travel Information