This week, Kenya hosted visits by three major dignitaries, a demonstration of its aspirations to be a leading voice for Africa in global affairs.
The first visit was from Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. As part of his first trip to Africa since taking office in 2021, Kishida embarked on a tour of four nations—Egypt, Mozambique, Ghana and Kenya—during Japan’s Golden Week, a springtime week with multiple national holidays. Kishida’s trip was billed by Tokyo as an opportunity to win over developing countries in Africa and the rest of the Global South ahead of a Group of Seven summit Japan is scheduled to host later this month. The next visit came from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who flew to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, for talks with senior government officials and regional heads of U.N. agencies on the security and humanitarian situation in Sudan, which has been gripped by violence between rival military factions jostling for power. And earlier today, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived in Kenya as part of his four-day trip to East Africa for discussions that centered on green energy, the war in Ukraine and the fighting in Sudan.
The flurry of visits in Nairobi this week is the latest indication of a growing recognition by international actors of Africa’s increasing importance in international affairs. Over the past twelve months, high-profile officials from a range of countries including the United States, France, China, Russia and Turkey have visited different African nations amid a stepped-up effort by world powers to curry favor with the continent’s governments. For their part, many African governments welcome that competition by foreign powers for influence in their countries and see it as a pathway to partnerships that they believe will serve their populations well and give the continent a seat at the table of decision-making in global politics.