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Factba.se: Australia DFAT Country Briefs - Kenya
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COUNTRY BRIEFS


INTRODUCTION

Australia's relations with Kenya are based on Kenya's key role and position in East Africa and its importance in multilateral bodies such as the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the World Trade Organization. Australia and Kenya maintain High Commissions in Nairobi and Canberra respectively.

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POLITICAL OVERVIEW

Kenya is a republic in which executive power resides with the president, the vice-president and cabinet. The central legislative body is the unicameral National Assembly consisting of 210 directly elected representatives, 12 nominated members and two ex-officio members. Elections are held every five years.

Following presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2007, incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was announced the winner of the presidential contest by a narrow margin over opposition leader, Raila Odinga. The announcement was disputed by Mr Odinga and sparked widespread violence. In a resolution of this crisis, brokered by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in February 2008, both leaders agreed to a power-sharing arrangement in which Mr Odinga would become Kenya's second Prime Minister. This led to the formation of a Grand Coalition Cabinet in April 2008, including both political parties. The new Cabinet comprises 40 Ministers and 50 Assistant Ministers.

Until the most recent elections, Kenya had enjoyed a long period of political stability. Kenya is one of the few states in East Africa not to have become involved in an external conflict and has led peace negotiations in Somalia and Sudan. Kenya also has a strong record of participation in UN peacekeeping operations worldwide, including in East Timor.

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ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Kenya remains poor by global standards. Per capita GDP in 2007 was US$845 — although real GDP growth has been encouraging in recent years, measuring 7.0% in 2007. Agriculture is the biggest sector of the economy. The Government's 2007 "Vision 2030" aims to diversify the economy, including into tourism, manufacturing, trade, information technology, and financial services; and to increase GDP growth to 10% per annum. Recent political instability, and its impact on key sectors including agriculture and tourism, has dampened GDP growth expectations.

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BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP

Australia and Kenya have enjoyed a positive, though modest, relationship centred on Kenya's role in East Africa and shared interests in the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the World Trade Organization and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), as well as people-to-people contacts through tourism and education links.

Bilateral economic and trade relationship

Australia has limited commercial interests in Kenya, but interest in the mining sector has been growing. Australian exports to Kenya in 2007 were worth over $52 million. Major export items were aluminium, civil engineering equipment and vehicle parts. Australian educational institutions also attract over 500 Kenyan students per year. Imports of Kenyan produce were valued at $15 million in 2007, the major item being fish products.

Aid

Australia contributed more than $7 million in aid to Kenya during 2006/07. Approximately half of this aid was channelled through AusAID (http://www.ausaid.gov.au) 's Africa regional development aid program (over $3.5 million) and included university scholarships, and assistance in governance, health, and water and sanitation.

In early 2008, Australia provided $2.6 million to organisations helping to meet the immediate needs of people affected by post-election violence in Kenya. This support was directed to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Kenya Red Cross, Caritas Australia, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Australian aid to Africa as a whole is estimated to increase to $116.4 million for 2008-09, an increase of $22 million, or 23%, over the 2007-08 Budget figure.

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Last Updated: August 2008

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