On June 25, the CEI International Classroom took place with the Ambassador of Spain in Kenya, the Hon. Mr. Javier García de Viedma Bernaldo de Quirós.


The presentation began with an introduction on "The role of the African continent in sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda" by Dr. Ana García Juanatey.


Juanatey stressed that the African continent is the one that must make a greater effort to achieve the 2030 Agenda due to the lack of resources available to it. He especially stopped at Sustainable Development Goals 2 (eradication of hunger), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 16 (establishment of peace, justice and solid institutions), considering them as the most important for the advancement of the 2030 Agenda in Africa.


Finally, the teacher referred to "Afro-optimism", a positive vision of the continent that recognizes that the capacity for innovation and development of the territory can facilitate the achievement of such objectives.




The ambassador began his presentation explaining the general situation in the country. Kenya has a geographic and demographic dimension similar to the Spanish.  The country's capital has been configured, in recent years, as a large city of marked international character. Nairobi is the third largest capital in the world of the United Nations and is the headquarters of two UN Programs (UNEP and UN-HABITAT), regional representative offices and specialized agencies. The importance of the country is configured in its role as "axis": it is a clear promoter of good relations and a factor of stability in the region. Furthermore, Kenya has always shown a great multilateral vocation and has notable international support. An example of this is her recent election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the next biennium.


The ambassador then spoke about the country's political context, which he defined as stable. In 2017, the result of presidential elections was reported to the country's Supreme Court by the opposition leader. The court ordered the repeat of the elections in October 2018. The victory of the same candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta, sparked a wave of protests against the government, led by the opposition leader, Raila Odina, a situation that generated uncertainty and some concern in the main international partners of the country. Months later, both candidates presented the so-called “Building Bridges Initiative”, a joint advance proposal for the construction of a stable country and that avoids the redistribution of power between ethnic groups each new electoral period. The country has a complex ethnic composition with 43 recognized ethnic groups (44 if the community of Indian origin is counted).


Regarding the economic context, the ambassador stressed that it is the third economy in Sub-Saharan Africa and that, in the same way as the political situation, it is characterized by its stability. Economic growth has been above 5% of GDP in recent years and economic projections are positive in this regard.


By 2030 Kenya aspires to be an internationally competitive, industrialized and upper middle income country and this is the objective of the “Vision 2030” program presented in 2008 by the Government. It is currently in the third phase of implementation through the "Big Four Agenda" initiative launched in 2018 by President Kenyatta. This third phase focuses on the development of four fundamental pillars: the manufacturing sector, food security, universal health coverage and housing.


The ambassador pointed to constant economic growth and the stability of the financial system as the country's economic strengths. Likewise, large investments are being made in infrastructure that may be of interest to the Spanish business sector. As weaknesses, he highlighted the lack of fiscal balance, a negative trade balance, external debt and corruption.


Regarding the impact of Covid-19 in the country, Mr. García de Viedma explained that the Government took swift measures, preventing cases from increasing exponentially. The country's economic structure does not allow a complete closure since a large part of the population depends on the underground economy and lives daily. Therefore, the economic repercussions do not foresee as negative as in other countries, the more pessimistic forecasts estimate a fall in growth to ± 1%.




The ambassador concluded by explaining the state of bilateral relations between Kenya and Spain. Relations are good and, from the embassy, ​​attempts have been made to increase the frequency of bilateral visits, since they are a real driving force behind the common agenda. In June 2019, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, made an official visit to the country. The Kenyan Minister of Tourism has visited Spain anually since 2016 to attend FITUR.


The Bilateral Financial Program with Kenya signed in 2009 is endowed with 150 million euros, of which about 100 million have been committed to different projects in strategic sectors of the Kenyan economy. Likewise, there is a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in tourism.


At the level of economic exchanges, the trade balance is favorable to Spain. Spanish investment in the country is scarce, the APPRI agreement still has a long way to go for its adoption and the possibility of finalizing a double taxation agreement is even more distant.


Finally, Mr. García de Viedma highlighted the economic attractiveness of the country. Kenya has a lot of regional projection; in effect, if the great African single market is achieved, the country will consolidate itself as the great gateway to it. In addition, the strong investment in infrastructure that the Government is making is interesting for those Spanish companies capable of developing in this field in a competitive manner.


The ambassador recommended the investment to profiles of entrepreneurs with strategic patience and a medium and long-term vision. He also warned of the challenges that the country still has in the matter of corruption - although the Kenyan government has pledged to actively combat it - the administrative complexity and the tax and immigration regulations.



Report prepared by Júlia Pérez Català

Student of the Preparation to join the Diplomatic Corps


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