Cablegate: Kenya: Ambassador's Open Letter to U.S. Business And
DE RUEHNR #1101/01 1190704
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280704Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5607
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
UNCLAS NAIROBI 001101
DEPT FOR AF/E, AF/EPS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD EINV PREL KE
SUBJECT: KENYA: AMBASSADOR'S OPEN LETTER TO U.S. BUSINESS AND
1. On April 24, the U.S. Mission disseminated an open letter
from the Ambassador to the American business community and U.S.
tourists. Wide dissemination was achieved by providing the letter
electronically to the Kenya Tourism Board and to the U.S. Foreign
Commercial Service's Office of Marketing. The Ambassador cleared
the letter with the Assistant Secretary prior to dissemination.
2. The goal in writing the letter was to encourage American
companies and tourists to take a fresh look at Kenya as a
potentially rewarding place to visit and do business. It was
written based on the strong U.S. interest in the rapid recovery of
the Kenyan economy following the unrest earlier this year and on
the belief that revival of the tourism industry, as well as greater
trade and investment generally, is critical to putting Kenya back on
the path of rapid and sustainable economic growth and job creation.
We have already received very positive feedback from U.S.-based
travel operators who are using this letter to put Kenya back on the
American tourist map.
3. Text of the Ambassador's open letter follows below:
April 23, 2008
AN OPEN LETTER TO AMERICAN TRAVELERS AND BUSINESSPEOPLE
FROM U.S. AMBASSDOR TO KENYA MICHAEL E. RANNEBERGER
Dear Fellow Citizens:
I'm sure many of you have been following recent events in Kenya,
specifically the crisis triggered by the sharply disputed results of
elections held in late December. The resulting problems, including
significant violence, were covered widely by the international
media. This unfortunate chain of events led to a great deal of
short-term damage to the Kenyan economy, and especially to the
country's dynamic and world-class tourism industry.
Kenya faces formidable challenges in repairing the damage done by
January's political crisis, but I can report that there have been
positive developments that are opening up the economic climate and
making Kenya once again the perfect locale for business and tourism.
The country's rival political camps reached a landmark power-sharing
agreement on February 28, and Parliament acted quickly to codify
this through a constitutional amendment. President Kibaki and the
Honorable Raila Odinga - now prime minister-designate - are working
closely together to forge this new coalition of parties in a new
spirit of goodwill and unity. At the same time, the private sector
and development partners are committing additional assistance
to Kenya's economic recovery and development. The U.S. recently
pledged an additional $25 million in new assistance to help in the
reconciliation and reconstruction efforts.
Kenya is re-energized and is once again a country on the move.
Kenya is a regional distribution center for trade across East
Africa, home to the largest regional financial industry, and is
investing aggressively in communications and transportation
infrastructure. This is an extraordinarily good moment for those
with an eye for business opportunities to take a close look at East
Africa, and at Kenya. I urge you to look again at Kenya as an
exciting destination for tourism and for doing business, be it trade
or investment. In 2007, a record 102,000 Americans visited Kenya,
many to enjoy the richness of the country's culture and the majesty
of it landscapes and unparalleled wildlife. Others came to look
for business opportunities or to engage in cultural and academic
exchanges with Kenyan counterparts.
But the main reason I am writing to invite you to give Kenya another
look is the great partnership we have created between the U.S. and
Kenya. During the recent crisis, the Kenyan people demonstrated once
again their resolute commitment to representative democracy by
exerting pressure on the polarized political leadership to achieve
an accord. The U.S. strongly supported the Kenyan people to bring
this about. As a result, U.S. stock in Kenya has never been higher
(polls over the last year showed an 85 percent approval rating even
before U.S. efforts during the crisis). Our friendship is based on
the reality of the huge partnership between the United States and
Kenya. On the one side, about $2 billion flows to Kenya annually
from all sources in the U.S. (U.S. Government assistance,
remittances, foundations and NGOs, trade, private sector investment,
and tourism), while the U.S. mission here is the largest in
sub-Saharan Africa, reflecting the importance of the bilateral
relationship (and Kenya's importance as an anchor of stability in
this crucial region). On the other side, the United States hosts
the largest Kenyan Diaspora anywhere in the world, and more Kenyan
students than from any other sub-Saharan African country.
I urge you to read the U.S. State Department's Travel Warning for
Kenya, available at www.state.gov. It is in place due to ongoing
problems of crime and terrorism in Kenya that pre-date January's
civil unrest. It does not recommend against travel to Kenya. It is
similar to travel warnings issued for several dozen other countries,
many of which are also close friends of the U.S.
I hope you'll consider visiting Kenya as a tourist or businessperson
in 2008. The country is very much back in business and this is an
exciting time to be here. There is a tangible spirit of renewed
hope and opportunity. You'll find Kenyans to be welcoming and warm.
I hope to see you here soon! I assure you that we will do our
utmost to provide appropriate support and assistance for your
engagement in Kenya. Karibu Kenya!
End letter text.