President Donald Trump will be hosting Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta at the White House on Monday, few months after President Buhari turned up as a guest.
The meeting will be only the second one-on-one meeting the US president has held with an African leader since he took office last year, as his first meeting, with Nigeria’s ailing 75-year-old Muhammadu Buhari in April, ended with the US president telling aides he never wanted to meet someone so lifeless again, according to three people familiar with the matter.
It is expected that his encounter with the younger, more urbane Mr Kenyatta, 56, will breathe fresh life into a relationship with a region that Washington is seen to have neglected while other countries, notably China, have in recent time developed a closer trade and investment ties with.
Financial Times also reported that under Emmanuel Macron, France is also trying to reset its relationship with its former colonies in Africa and deepen commercial ties with bigger economies in the Anglo sphere, such as Nigeria and South Africa.
“Trump likes chemistry,” said a person in touch both with senior US administration officials and the Kenya delegation preparing for Monday’s meeting. “Africa has never been high on his radar but if the big guy likes you he’ll find a way to make things work.”
This new narrative is a contrast to what Trump said of Buhari at a joint press briefing held after their bilateral talks.
Trump said he had in implicit belief in the Nigerian president to rein in the “massive corruption” in the country and commended his efforts at doing that.
“Nigeria has a reputation for very massive corruption. I also know that the President has been able to cut that down very substantially,” Trump said.
“We talked about that, he is working on it and they have made a lot of progress and I think they will continue to make a lot of progress.”
It should also be noted that Trump has a history of gaffes when it comes to Africa.