Kenya might be caught up in the trade rivalry between the United States and China in 2019

The US, China rivalry is set to boil down to Africa in 2019 as the two economic powerhouses lock horns over bitter trade wars that have culminated into their trading allies being forced to choose sides.

RiskMap 2019, a report authored by global risk consultancy firm Control Risks has revealed that America is set to change its diplomacy tact in Africa in order to clip China’s wings which has in the past decade made formidable inroads in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Control Risk’s report projects that China will continue to broaden its engagement across the continent with particular focus on East Africa despite multiple US warnings about the perils of Chinese debt-fuelled spending for economic stability.

As such, RiskMap 2019 states that while the US has in the past focused on security matters, the country is set to morph into a commercial ally in a strategy that will see the world’s biggest economy revive development finance and lending for infrastructure projects in Africa.

“So far, the US-China rivalry that dominated global headlines in 2018 has played out less visibly in Africa than on other continents. Support for China or the US has not emerged as a defining issue in African politics, with most countries keen to pursue closer ties and seek financing from both sides rather than falling neatly on one camp, in 2019 we might see this changing,” says George Nicholls, Control Risk’s Senior Partner for Southern Africa in the report.

According to Nicholls, the rivalry will present African countries with increasingly starker foreign policy and commercial choices.

Kenya remains a strategic partner for both the United States and China, the US needs Kenya’s support to ensure peace in Somalia is conclusively achieved.

On October 14 while presiding over the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) day at Kenyatta barracks in Gilgil, President Uhuru Kenyatta reiterated Kenya’s support for Amisom.

During his visit to The White House in August, 2018, President Kenyatta also witnessed the signing of agreements that will see two US companies invest Ksh24 billion in Kenya.

On the other hand, Kenya is the third most indebted country to China in Africa according to China Africa Research Initiative (Cari)data. The research also shows that Kenya owes China Ksh1 trillion in infrastructure loans.

It is against this backdrop that will place Kenya between a rock and a hard place.

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