Covid, security top as Uhuru, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson meet
Noah Cheploen and PSCU @cheploennoah
Kenya’s fight against coronavirus got a major boost yesterday after the United Kingdom government announced a donation of 817, 000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among other key announcements.
The announcement, which came a few hours before President Uhuru Kenyatta met UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at his country residence, also comes in the wake of growing fears of a fourth-wave of the disease amidst the reopening of schools.
Uhuru and Johnson’s meeting at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s official country residence in Buckinghamshire, discussed the deepening of the Kenya-UK historic ties as well as explored new avenues of bilateral cooperation.
In their broad discussion, the President and the Prime Minister were clear that it was necessary to maximise on the benefits of a strategic partnership they signed when the Kenyan leader last visited the UK.
“It is time to fully pick up from the agreements last year. Implementation was affected by Covid-19 but we must start to strongly deliver on that agreement,” President Kenyatta told his British host.
On his part, Johnson reiterated his administration’s commitment to continue working with Kenya in expanding British business footprints in Africa so as to reclaim the declining volumes of UK investments on the continent.
“The UK and Kenya share a long and rich history, but this is a relationship that is focused on the future,” Johnson said.
“As friends and allies, we are sharing UK vaccine doses to support Kenya’s fight against the pandemic.
From boosting economic growth to addressing climate change and getting girls into school, the UK and Kenya are working hand-in-hand to deliver a more secure and prosperous world,” he said.
In a joint statement released by State House and the British High Commission, UK government said that the vaccines—half through a direct bilateral donation, and half through a UK donation to the Covax facility—will be shipped to the country immediately.
“The UK announces it will send 817,000 Covid- 19 vaccines to boost Kenya’s vaccination programme,” reads the statement.
It adds: “The Oxford-AstraZeneca doses; half through a direct bilateral donation, and half through a UK donation to the Covax facility – will be shipped from the UK to Kenya as soon as possible in the coming days.”
In their meeting, the two leaders toasted the strides made in the last 18 months on the Kenya-UK Strategic Partnership with a number of important announcements regarding investments in the offing.at
Johnson pledged additional vaccines on a bilateral basis, in addition to the 400,000 doses announced earlier on Wednesday.
“As friends and allies, we are sharing UK vaccine doses to support Kenya’s fight against the pandemic,” Johnson said.
This comes at a time when Covax is expecting to receive 250 million donated Covid-19 vaccine doses over the next six to eight weeks.
The influx of doses is a major boost for the scheme, which is aimed at ensuring poorer countries can access jabs and has so far delivered 152 million vaccine doses to 137 participating territories.
In a weekly operational update issued yesterday, the World Health Organisation said that at a recent UN Crisis Management Team meeting it “reported that there will be increased vaccine donations to the Covax facility, projecting an additional 250 million vaccines over the next six to eight weeks”.
On Tuesday, President Uhuru secured a Sh20 billion funding for the Big Four Agenda - his legacy projects - and yesterday, representatives from the two countries signed the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA).
The five-year agreement will go a long way in tackling shared threats across the East African region.
The Head of State will wind up his three-day tour today by co-chairing with Johnson, the Global Education Summit which seeks to raise Sh540 billion to go towards educating children from poor families in Africa and other developing nations.
The bilateral agreement also revolves around security and stability in the region and particularly tackling the Al-Shabaab menace through military support, team work and sustainable development.
“In addition to co-chairing the Global Education Summit, Kenya and the UK have had an extremely strong partnership on Covid-19,” a joint statement of teh two leaders read in part.
The Kenya-UK partnership also seeks to tackle climate with UK recognising the key role Kenya is playing as a leader in the region.
“A Kenya-UK Year of Climate Action has driven Kenyan leadership in the region, along with a joint action plan on tackling climate change,”the statement said.
British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott underscored the huge strides that the two leaders have made since their last meeting 18 months ago.
“18 months on from their last meeting in Downing Street, our two leaders have a huge amount to celebrate across all areas of our Strategic Partnership, including how we have tackled the immense challenges of Covid-19 together,” she said.
“From trade, to security, development, and climate change, our partnership and cooperation is richer than ever, to both our countries benefit.
I’m excited to continue expanding that in the years ahead: the sky is the limit what our two countries can do together,!” she stated.