Canada established diplomatic relations with Kenya in 1965 following its independence.
In Kenya, Canada is represented by the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi which is Canada's largest mission in Africa. The High Commission is also responsible for Canada's relations with five other countries in the region as well as with the United Nations Office in Nairobi where the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and UN Habitat are headquartered. Kenya is represented in Canada by a High Commission in Ottawa.
The bilateral relationship between Canada and Kenya is strong and founded on shared interests, particularly regional security. Kenya is East Africa’s largest economy and through its main port provides a crucial trade route to the rest of Africa.
On April 9, 2013 President Uhuru Kenyatta was inaugurated as Kenya’s fourth President following the elections on March 4, 2013 for the Presidency, a new Parliament and County Governors. These were the first elections under Kenya’s new Constitution, adopted in 2010 as the capstone of a national response to the post-electoral violence of 2007-08. Canada congratulated Kenyans on exercising their democratic right and on conducting peacefully the first elections under a new constitution. The Commonwealth Observer Group concluded: “that despite some shortcomings the 2013 General Elections in Kenya were credible and met many of the benchmarks for democratic elections to which Kenya is committed”.
Kenya is a leading player in regional efforts to improve peace and security, as a member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and as an active member and current chair of the African Union Peace and Security Council. Kenya is involved in African Union efforts to stabilize relations between Sudan and South Sudan, and has troops deployed with AMISOM in Somalia, as well as on peacekeeping operations in Sudan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Liberia.
Kenya hosts the International Peace Support Training Centre (IPSTC) which has benefitted from DFAIT support. Kenya has been a member of the Military Training and Cooperation Programme since 1970, with over 300 Kenyan officers trained to date. There are also two Canadian Forces officers deployed full time at the IPSTC in Nairobi.
CIDA's presence in Nairobi has responsibility for programming in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and supports the Pan-Africa Regional Program, as well as initiatives in Somalia and other countries in the sub-region. In 2011-12, CIDA provided approximately $58.02 million in support of development initiatives in Kenya, including $6.04 million to Canadian non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The bilateral program in Kenya contributes to CIDA’s thematic priority of Children and Youth in support of basic education and public sector accountability.
CIDA provided $2.9 million to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) via a multi-donor United Nations Development Program (UNDP) basket fund to support the preparation and delivery of the 2013 elections.
The longstanding conflict in neighbouring Somalia combined with drought and famine in the Horn of Africa in 2011 provoked a humanitarian crisis within Somalia and triggered increased refugee flows into Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, the largest refugee camp in the world. Canada has provided $161.1 million to meet humanitarian needs arising from the drought and famine, including $98.3 million to organizations working in Somalia or to support Somali refugees in neighbouring countries such as Kenya.
Canada has a well-established trading relationship with Kenya, which has an open-to-business environment and is a regional transportation hub. Two-way merchandise trade reached $116.7 million in 2012, consisting of $95.5 million in exports to, and more than $21.2 million in imports from, Kenya.
Due to issues of commercial confidentiality, official Canadian direct investment figures for Kenya are not available. However, according to Natural Resources Canada, cumulative Canadian mining assets in 2011 amounted to $18.3 million, marking a significant jump from 2010’s total of $2.1 million.
Canadian investments in Kenya are most notable in the natural resources sector, where junior exploration companies are actively seeking mineral and oil deposits. Other major Canadian investments include aircraft service centers, call centers and hotels. Opportunities exist for Canadian companies in the cleantech, transportation infrastructure and education sectors.