Biden and Ruto Announce $250 Million in Green Energy Investments and Debt Relief for Kenya


May 23 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and Kenyan President William Ruto are set to announce significant investments in green energy and health manufacturing in Kenya, along with a plan to reduce the nation’s debt burden, a senior U.S. administration official revealed.

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President Ruto arrived in the U.S. on Wednesday for a three-day state visit that includes bilateral talks with Biden on Thursday, followed by an opulent state dinner in the evening. This visit marks the sixth state visit hosted by the Biden administration and the first for an African president since 2008.

Africa’s political landscape has experienced upheaval due to recent military coups, wars, and contested elections, increasing the influence of U.S. rivals China and Russia. Biden aims to bolster ties with Kenya to help stabilize the continent and advance U.S. interests.

On Thursday, Biden will designate Kenya as a major non-NATO ally, making it the first sub-Saharan African country to receive this status. Currently, 18 countries hold this designation, including Israel, Brazil, and the Philippines.

The leaders will also unveil new U.S.-backed investments in green energy and health manufacturing, alongside a comprehensive plan to reduce Kenya’s substantial debt, most of which is owed to China. A senior administration official stated that the U.S. would announce $250 million in new investments in Kenya through the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, including $180 million for a significant affordable housing project. This will bring the agency’s portfolio in Kenya to over $1 billion.

Additionally, the humanitarian crisis in Haiti will be a focus, as Kenya prepares to deploy 1,000 paramilitary officers to the Caribbean country as part of a U.N.-led effort to curb gang violence and hunger.

Biden plans an official visit to Africa in February, post-U.S. presidential election, indicating confidence in his re-election. He had pledged to visit Africa in 2023, but the trip did not occur.

Ruto will be honored at a state dinner featuring a menu of heirloom tomato soup, butter-poached lobster, smoked beef short ribs, and a white chocolate dessert. The dinner will be illuminated by 1,000 candles, with entertainment provided by country singer Brad Paisley and the Howard University Gospel Choir, reflecting Ruto’s musical interests.

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