Kenya is a leading country in the East African region with better developed infrastructure and industry. The capital city is a regional hub derisively referred to by some neighbours as the London of East Africa. In addition, Kenya is strategically located within the East African Community and with its perceived relative stability, relatively better infrastructure – the country undoubtedly is influential in the region. This coupled with the country’s quiet diplomacy and non interference in the neighbours’ internal issues – the country has acquired a special place among the neighbouring countries in the region.
South Sudan remains a country with special links with Kenya premised on many factors ranging from cultural factors to social, political and economic among other strategic factors. Culturally a significant proportion of the Sudanese population has linkages to several other Kenyan communities. They share languages, culture and have a long historical linkage. This was further enhanced by the support the South Sudan refugees received during their refugee stay in Kenya. This has made it easy for the two countries to establish other relationships both at individual and country levels. Indeed following independence of South Sudan there have been several initiatives aimed at strengthening and formalizing relations between the two countries. A significant role played by Kenya was to support the country in establishing a new government system in South Sudan. Indeed the facilitation of the negotiation processes between South Sudan and Sudan leading to the birth of a new country further enhanced the relationship.
The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Nairobi remains significant in these relationships. Coupled to these, bilateral relations between Kenya and South Sudan seem to grow stronger by the day – arguably this is based on mutual respect for each other. It is important to re-emphasise the imperative of historical perspectives to this association. It is expected that South Sudan is likely to benefit further from Kenya’s support in developing a stable, prosperous and peaceful state. Several Kenyan citizens currently reside in Southern Sudan, run businesses, offer technical expertise and human resource, notwithstanding the several other Kenyan firms investing in the new state. The recent deals to develop an extensive oil infrastructure traversing into Kenya from South Sudan include some of the indicators of closer ties.