Kenya’s Regional Relations: Between Principle and Practice
By Dr. Emmanuel Kisiangani
SAIIA Policy Briefing No 113, October 2014
Kenya has long been cast as a reluctant regional actor. Those who view it as having a strong economy, but lacking political leverage in its region have questioned its regional inﬂuence. Critics argue that Kenya takes its cue from its neighbors and adopts regional engagement strategies that are a passive object of the geo-strategic interests of others. A radical departure from Kenya’s conservative approach to regional relations was the incursion into Somalia to wage war against Al-Shabaab; the biggest military venture that Kenya had undertaken since independence. The question is: why has Kenya not consistently converted its economic strengths into political inﬂuence and acted as a pivotal state in the region? This brief examines the reasons behind Kenya’s ambivalent performance in regional politics.