Uhuru Macron
President Uhuru Kenyatta drives France President Emmanuel Macron in unveiling the locally assembled Peugeot 3008. The drive shows the lengths to which both presidents could be going to to foster relations between both countries

France may be the makers of the Peugeot model of cars but on March 13, it was President Uhuru Kenyatta who took the wheel to test drive an automobile assembled in Kenya by the French firm.

On the passenger seat was France President Emmanuel Macron, who is the first French head of state to visit Kenya. The test-drive wasn’t just a show-off. It indicated the gains that Kenya has made in revving up its stakes with France, one of the leading economies in the European Union bloc.

Such has been President Kenyatta’s need to be a more than courteous host, that he has even resorted to tweeting in French on his official Twitter account (see tweet below). Uhuru must have summoned the linguists who informed him of how to pronounce the name “Macron” like the French whenever he made reference to the French President.

He had to since the N has a pronunciation that’s very strange to English speakers – it’s kind of half-pronounced, somewhere between being silent and being fully pronounced.

These great lengths, including driving Macron in an automobile assembled with the expertise of French automaker PSA Groupe, show Uhuru is ready to walk the talk of fostering relations between State House and the Elysee Palace.

The unveiling of the Peugeot 3008 which has been assembled in Kenya, the Kenya President’s Communications Unit said, is geared towards boosting Kenya’s manufacturing sector. Peugeot joins german luxury car maker Volkswagen, which is already assembling cars in Thika.

https://twitter.com/UKenyatta/status/1105822067281354752

English translation

I am delighted to welcome my friend His Excellency President Emanuel Macron of the Republic of France to State House, Nairobi. Kenya and France have cordial relations that have stimulated growth in various sectors for the benefit of our people.

Kenya and PSA Groupe signed a Letter of Commitment in February 2017 paving way for Peugeot to commence its local assembly programme. The signing was witnessed by Uhuru and former France minister for Economy and Finance Michel Sapin.

The President lauded PSA Groupe for the milestone achieved in assembling vehicles in Kenya. Uhuru said he is delighted that PSA Groupe hopes to assemble at least 15,000 vehicles annually in Kenya when the assembly plant is fully operational.

He reiterated his directive to all government entities to buy and use locally assembled vehicles and spare parts. The President said this aims to promote manufacturing, create good jobs, and enhance technology transfer to the country.

The President stated that he is keen to promote the “Buy Kenya, Build Kenya” philosophy among Kenyan people. He said his Administration is prioritizing local motor vehicle assembly and manufacture of spare parts under the Big Four Agenda.

Macron’s visit to the country to foster relations with Kenya are, on the face of it, taking shape. Manufacturing is one of the pillars in Uhuru’s Big Four Agenda, and Macron’s support shows the extent to which Paris is aiming at showing goodwill.

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The two Presidents, smiling inside the cockpit of the locally assembled Peugeot 3008, could be a precursor to future endeavours. It remains to be seen whether the same will transfer on the global stage, and whether the two countries will be reading from the same dashboard.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and France President Emmanuel Macron exchange greetings after witnessing the unveiling of the Peugeot 3008 SUV at State House, Nairobi. Credit: Courtesy/State House.

The Peugeot 3008 is a 1600cc twin turbo sport utility vehicle (SUV) that was put together at the Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers (KVM) assembly plant in Thika. The assembling of Peugeot 3008 SUV commenced in September 2017.

Its unveiling on March 13 at State House was posited as Uhuru’s commitment to prioritising manufacturing, especially vehicle assembly.

Two additional models, the Peugeot 2008 SUV and Peugeot 308SW, are expected to commence in April and September 2019. French automaker PSA Groupe, which manufactures brands such as Peugeot and Citroen, is expected to increase to a total of 1,000 vehicles in Kenya, up from the current 480.

[Read Also: Controversial Laikipia car can be a good fit for Kenya]

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