Kenya’s Economic Diplomacy in East Africa
Economic Diplomacy has been an area of interest in developing countries lately. Several countries have realized the importance of this tool to pursue their economic interests. The study was focused on Kenya’s economic diplomacy in East Africa. Kenya is East Africa’s economic hub and has embarked on using this tool to pursue its economic interests in the region. The newly-elected government of Kenya in March, 2013 headed by President Uhuru Kenyata has paid special attention to this important tool of diplomacy as demonstrated in its premier assignments and the study was specifically interested in this field to explore how the country is using it around East Africa, to find out any challenges faced and suggest ways of improving the use of this important device of diplomacy. The research problem was to dig out ways in which Kenya has managed to maintain individualized trade relations with countries in East Africa. The main objective of this research was to analyze the trend and use of economic diplomacy as a modern tool of diplomacy used to market Kenya as a country. It also focused on establishing the interconnection between Kenya’s economy and that of the other countries in East Africa. More specifically, the research was directed towards finding out how Kenya uses economic diplomacy to influence her relations, the motivating factors behind this new dispensation and establishing any challenges faced by the country in achieving its objectives. The theoretical framework established during the research was the theory of Interdependence Liberalism whereby countries depend on each other on various issues including but not limited to trade relations, security and for political reasons. The research design was descriptive research where data was collected through both primary and secondary sources. The primary data collection methods used was questionnaires administered to respondents and interview questions too. The respondents were diplomats from the East African countries; Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi who in one way or another are in charge Trade Affairs in their embassies, and also civil servants from the ministries of Trade, East African Integration and Foreign Affairs. Secondary data was obtained from internal government reports and existing newsletters to support the primary data. The study established that there was a close link between Kenya’s economy and that of the other countries in East Africa. It also established that the motivating factors behind Kenya’s realization of economic diplomacy are export promotion, investment promotion and involving other stakeholders in the implementation of economic policies. The challenges highlighted by the study were poor governance and corruption, lack of strong economic policies, poor infrastructure and fear of domination from other countries. The researcher recommended that there is need to streamline policy implementation strategies in Kenya and to eliminate trade barriers within East African borders to enhance trade in the region.