The EU is hoping to cement its relationship with Kenya through green subsidies by channelling €348 million into support for the electrification of Kenya’s public transport system. Kenya is one of the EU’s primary partners in the region, at a time when Africa is increasingly seen as split between pro-Russian, pro-Chinese, and pro-Western spheres of influence.
Kenyan President William Ruto lobbied for more EU funding for Kenyan green projects during a recent visit to Brussels. Last month, the European investment bank launched an initiative to support hydrogen production in Kenya.
European nations have long-standing aid programmes in Kenya, with plans underway to shortly conclude an EU-Kenya trade deal. This week, a delegation of MEPs will visit Kenya on a fact-finding mission to examine future avenues for developmental aid.
Kenya is acknowledged to be a reliable pro-Western nation in East Africa against an established Chinese economic presence in the region. Experts have observed that Kenya has been vocal in its condemnation of Russia’s war in Ukraine in the hope of securing more Western aid. However, this condemnation did not stop a state visit by the Kenyan president to Belarus this week.
At the same time, Kenya is suffering from the political effects of a rise in energy prices. The Kenyan government aims to ameliorate its energy woes by building green power capacity, potentially using European financial support. President William Ruto, who took office in September 2022, made climate action a leading goal of his administration, committing Kenya to phase out fossil fuel energy production by 2030, linking climate change to the country’s worsening drought issues.
For the EU, the partnership underlines the global dimension to its Green Transition Deal and increasing use of green subsidies as an instrument of foreign policy. The EU signed off on similar plans in a €624 million green spending spree for Morocco last month, tied closely to promises by Morocco to assist the bloc with border security.
The EU has defended mingling its foreign policy with green policies by citing Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty relating to the sustainable development of the Earth.
Critics of EU policy may question the final destination of the aid and the notion of European taxpayers funding projects in foreign jurisdictions. Regardless, the EU’s green strategy has effects outside its borders and is bound firmly at the hip to the bloc’s foreign policy objectives.