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.
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 2002 democratic transition 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. Kenya has East Africa’s most dynamic economy and is a growing regional business, financial, and transportation hub. The U.S.-Kenyan strategic trade and investment partnership is an important pillar of the U.S.-Kenya relationship. In August 2018, Presidents Trump and Kenyatta formally elevated the relationship to a strategic partnership and established a corresponding annual bilateral strategic dialogue. In November 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Nairobi to conduct the second U.S.-Kenya bilateral strategic dialogue. The annual dialogue prioritizes five pillars of engagement: economic prosperity, trade, and investment; defense cooperation; democracy, governance, and civilian security; multilateral and regional issues; and public health cooperation.
Ethnic-based political divisions, interference in key institutions, corruption, and impunity have posed challenges to Kenya’s democracy. After widespread inter-ethnic violence marred the 2007 presidential election, Kenya adopted a new constitution in 2010 devolving some federal powers and funding to Kenya’s 47 counties. The 2013 and 2017 elections were more peaceful, though concerns remained about the independence and credibility of democratic institutions and the government’s adherence to the rule of law. Independent observers praised Kenya’s national elections on August 9, 2022, as free, fair, credible, and peaceful. The losing candidate, former prime minister Raila Odinga, contested the outcome before the Supreme Court but, when the court unanimously upheld the results, Odinga publicly accepted the decision. The winner, former deputy president William Ruto, was sworn in as president on September 13, 2022. United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai led President Biden’s delegation to the inauguration of President Ruto.
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. For over 70 years, the United States has developed a defense cooperation framework to advance our national interests with our Kenyan security partners. The returns on this investment are readily visible through the participation in the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia by the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and in the KDF’s proven value as a partner in the fight against al-Shabaab. No competitor can match our decades-long investment in the KDF, which has benefitted from our superior battle-tested weapons and equipment, a comprehensive maintenance and support program for U.S. defense articles, and unrivaled international military education and training (IMET) programs. 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 a developing partner in East Africa, Kenya is a recipient of significant 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. As part of U.S. global leadership, the United States is supporting Kenya’s efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic through vaccine donations, training and research, equipment, testing, and supporting health, water, sanitation, education, employment, and food security needs.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Kenya’s diversified economy has produced average annual GDP growth of five percent over the last decade, and an increasing number of U.S. 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 is the largest destination for Kenya’s exports and the seventh largest source of its imports. Kenya enjoys preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. U.S. imports from Kenya include apparel, coffee, and tea. More than 120,000 U.S. citizens visited the country in each of the last two years, making the United States the leading source of tourists to Kenya. Launched in 2018, Kenya Airways’ three times per week New York-Nairobi direct flights provide seamless connections. U.S. private sector interest in Kenya remains robust, with numerous U.S. companies engaged in Kenya, especially in the technology, consumer goods, banking and finance, and healthcare sectors. The United States’ existing trade and investment framework agreements with both the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa include Kenya as a member state.
On July 14, 2022, the United States and Kenya announced the launch of the U.S.-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership. Both governments agreed to pursue enhanced engagement towards a bilateral trade agreement that would increase investment; promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth; benefit workers, consumers, and businesses; and support African regional economic integration. Key areas for engagement include agriculture; anticorruption; digital trade; environment and climate change action; good regulatory practices; micro, small and medium enterprises; promoting workers’ rights and protections; supporting participation of women, youth, and others in trade; standards collaboration; and trade facilitation and customs procedures.
Educational and Cultural Exchange
The U.S.-Kenyan partnership includes collaboration on academic, cultural, and sports exchange programs, as well as social inclusion initiatives that engage diverse communities. Kenya is a strong supporter of English-language education, academic mobility initiatives, and bilateral exchanges. Students, government officials, and professionals from both countries have participated in a wide variety of U.S. and Kenyan government-supported academic and specialized exchange programs, including the Fulbright Program and the Young African Leadership Initiative’s Mandela Washington Fellowship. The U.S. government supports a network of five American Spaces in Kenya. These spaces provide a wide range of resources to Kenyans, including high-quality English-language teaching and free cultural events and educational advising services.
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. In January 2023, Kenya completes a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Kenya is also a member of several regional international organizations including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and the East African Community.
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).
CIA World Factbook Kenya Page
USAID Kenya Page
History of U.S. Relations With Kenya
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