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And his meetings have not stopped, even after travelling to the coronation of King Charles III last Saturday. Ruto crossed to the Netherlands after the pomp and circumstance and is now visiting Israel for two days to meet business leaders to promote investments in Kenya.
Kenya enjoys a solid relationship with the Netherlands. It is our intention to strengthen this relationship further, particularly through trade where we see more opportunities for horticultural products, tea and coffee, fruits, and fish.
Kenya will also work with the Netherlands… pic.twitter.com/fhvyExj2r6
— William Samoei Ruto, PhD (@WilliamsRuto) May 8, 2023
Governance and Political analyst Javas Bigambo tells The Africa Report that the visit confirms that Kenya remains a strategic partner to foreign powers and a gateway to the East African region and the Horn of Africa.
“Ruto is working hard to be recognised internationally. He wants to surpass Uhuru Kenyatta, his predecessor,” says Bigambo.
Ruto was among more than 500 high-ranking delegates, who included presidents, former presidents and heads of various institutions, who converged for a governance forum in Nairobi, sponsored by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation last week.
During the discussion that mainly touched on governance and the economy, Ruto sought Mo Ibrahim’s help to reach former President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
“Since these are your friends, why can’t you reach out to them and have a conversation?” said Ruto, referring to the strife between himself, Raila and Uhuru after the August elections.
While acknowledging the friendship, Ibrahim responded by saying that dialogue was the only solution to ending the political differences in the country, warning that if the situation escalates, it will injure the economy.
“We need to find a way to talk. I already reached out to our brother Raila, but I cannot reach Uhuru,” he said.
Embracing the West
Ruto is on a clear mission to shape his foreign policy by working more with Western countries, says Bigambo. Uhuru tried to balance the relations but was seen to lean on China when it came to development projects.
“Ruto is aligning more to the West; we can see from the leaders he is meeting,” he said.
The week’s list of dignitaries Ruto met includes UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly. He also met with high-level financial chiefs, including International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Clean energy for Kenya
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Nairobi confirms this – the two leaders discussed trade relations and how to end the ongoing conflict in Sudan, as well as Kenya’s success story of using renewable energy.
Ruto said Kenya had joined the Climate Club established by the G7 for the nations that pursue ambitious climate policies, showing Western powers that he is leading his country to embrace clean energy.
We encourage German businesses to explore and exploit the huge untapped investment opportunities in Kenya. We invite them to take advantage of our country’s geostrategic advantage and use Nairobi as the hub for their regional forays. pic.twitter.com/b4Atb6rp1E
— William Samoei Ruto, PhD (@WilliamsRuto) May 5, 2023
Kenya leads in renewables on the continent, by producing between 80%-90% of its electricity from geothermal, hydro, wind, and solar power, according to the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), and it aims to reach 100% clean energy by 2030.
Kenya now hopes to attract more foreign investment, especially from Germany, which is advanced in renewable energy, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, to increase its electricity production with the aim of growing its industries.
Dongo Kundu project
Ruto also hosted Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, with the two leaders promising to strengthen cooperation in infrastructure and economic ties.
Kenya celebrates 60 years of strong and rich diplomatic relations, marked by successful partnership and a deep mutual understanding with Japan. We are determined to strengthen and deepen our ties and to broaden the scope of our friendship for the benefit of our citizens. pic.twitter.com/rex4Jfu8iK
— William Samoei Ruto, PhD (@WilliamsRuto) May 3, 2023
“Kenya contributes to the stability in the region,” said Kishida, showing Japan’s trust in Kenya’s voice on international matters like the crisis in Ukraine.
Japan reiterated its continued support to help Kenya expand its Mombasa Special Economic Zone at Dongo Kundu.
Last year, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a grant agreement with Kenya to provide aid of up to Y6bn ($45.5m) to facilitate infrastructure development.