French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Kenya on Wednesday afternoon for a historic visit, as this is the first-ever to the country by a President of France.
President Uhuru Kenyatta received Mr Macron at State House in Nairobi, where he inspected a guard of honour ahead of their talks.
Via Twitter, President Kenyatta said, “I am delighted to host my friend … in his historic visit to Kenya. Kenya and France enjoy a cordial relationship that has helped spur growth in different areas for the benefit of our people.”
President Macron is expected to sign a series of agreements with Mr Kenyatta as Paris eyes reasserting its influence in the eastern Africa region.
The agreements concern the Nairobi Central Railway Station, energy projects, plant health programmes and the Big Four Agenda on food security, universal health coverage, affordable housing and manufacturing.
Mr Kenyatta will also seek France’s commitment in the fight against terrorism, specifically on whether it can support the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom). Kenya sent troops of the Kenya Defence Forces to Somalia in 2011 to help restore peace and stability.
On Thursday, Mr Macron will attend the One Planet Summit in Nairobi on reversing climate change.
President Macron has toured severel African countries in a bid to counter China, whose influence countinues to grow.
He has visited Djibouti and Ethiopia where he held discussions with President Ismail Omar Guelleh and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
In the case of Djibouti, both Paris and Beijing — as well as Japan and the United States — have military bases in East Africa’s smallest country due to its strategic location along a key shipping lane leading to the Suez Canal.
As reported by AFP, President Guelleh, who described himself as “a great friend of China” when he visited President Xi Jinping in 2017, told Macron: “There are opportunities for French companies, particularly in the field of infrastructure.
With MP Ahmed, Mr Macron visited the remote Ethiopian town of Lalibela with its renowned 13th-century church complex, a Unesco World Heritage site.
He promised to “finance and assist the work with the Ethiopians to restore these churches”, threatened by erosion and temporarily covered by vast metal-and-tarpaulin structures much hated by locals.
Rwanda meanwhile has invited Macron to attend the 25th anniversary of the country’s 1994 genocide that killed some 800,000 of its citizens.