What Presidents Macron and Ruto discussed in their latest meeting

By Jeune Afrique

Posted on Wednesday, 25 January 2023 11:04, updated on Thursday, 26 January 2023 09:55
French President Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with Kenya's President William Ruto, prior to a meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, on January 24, 2023. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

Kenya’s President William Ruto met with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on 24 January at the Elysée Palace. Here's what the two heads of state discussed.

During a two-hour lunch, Ruto and Macron – accompanied by the deputy chief of staff, the ambassador in Paris, the former’s Europe director at the ministry of foreign affairs, the foreign affairs minister Catherine Colonna, the new ambassador in Nairobi and the latter’s Africa advisor Franck Paris – discussed mostly economic issues.

Overall, Ruto expressed his desire to see France become more involved, via its flagship companies, in several areas, including agriculture and fertiliser production. Kenya wants to develop a local production sector to ensure its sovereignty in this area.

Projects up for discussion

Nairobi has been hit particularly hard by drought, and is hoping Paris will help it build new dams, with help from companies like Sogea and Vinci, among others.

The two leaders also took stock of the projects mentioned during Macron’s visit to Kenya in 2019, when Ruto was vice-president, such as the Nakuru-Mau Summit highway and the extension of the road serving the main airport in Nairobi.

Additionally, Ruto said he would like to see Kenya and France work more closely together in the sports sector: football and basketball, in particular.

Regional relationships

In addition to these bilateral economic issues, Ruto’s relationship with Somalia and its new president were also discussed, as well as the situation in the Great Lakes region, including the conflict between DRC and Rwanda. Ruto said Kenya’s ongoing deployment in Eastern DRC was satisfactory, for the moment, but that it would need to be helped financially to shoulder the burden if it goes on long term.

He urged Macron to continue to maintain direct dialogue with Presidents Félix Tshisekedi and Paul Kagame, despite the tension between the two men.

The Kenyan president then flew to Dakar, Senegal, to attend the ‘Feeding Africa, Food Sovereignty and Resilience’ summit, which is organised by the African Development Bank.

Olivier Becht, minister delegate for foreign trade and attractiveness, will travel to Nairobi at the end of February to follow up on decisions taken during this visit.

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