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Foreign Relations: Perceived Impact on Kenya’s Development

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• US-China global super-power rivalry evident in Kenyans’ perceptions of development needs and concerns.

Introduction
As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry continues with his high-level meetings, he may be interested to know who Kenyans consider are their most valuable development partners, as well as which foreign countries outside the immediate East Africa region whose perceived interests in Kenya cause them most concern. These realities formed part of Ipsos’ most recent national survey.

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Foreign Relations: Perceived Impact on Kenya’s Development

  1. 1. Page 1 of 3 Nairobi, Kenya 4th May 2015 Ipsos’ 1st Quarter SPEC (Social, Political, Economic and Cultural) Survey: Fourth Media Release Foreign Relations: Perceived Impact on Kenya’s Development  US-China global super-power rivalry evident in Kenyans’ perceptions of development needs and concerns. Introduction As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry continues with his high-level meetings, he may be interested to know who Kenyans consider are their most valuable development partners, as well as which foreign countries outside the immediate East Africa region whose perceived interests in Kenya cause them most concern. These realities formed part of Ipsos’ most recent national survey. Results The survey shows that such perceptions are highly coloured by national political alignments. On the ‘friend’ side of the equation, the U.S. easily scores highest, a full 12% ahead of the next most positively-viewed country, China: 35% vs. 23%. “Which foreign country outside of East Africa do you think is most important for Kenya to have good relations with in order to achieve our development goals?” (By Total, Supporters of the Main Political Parties/Coalitions) Country Total (n=1,964) CORD Supporters (n=623) Jubilee Supporters (n=867) % Difference USA 35% 47% 29% -18% China 23% 13% 33% +20% UK 7% 11% 4% -7% Japan 6% 6% 6% 0% South Africa 4% 4% 5% +1% Germany 3% 3% 3% 0% Nigeria 1% 1% 1% 0% Russia 1% 1% 0% -1% Sweden 0% 1% 0% -1% France 0% 0% 1% +1% Ghana 0% 0% 1% +1% DK 11% 5% 12% +7% None 3% 3% 2% -1%
  2. 2. Page 2 of 3 Yet when the results are filtered through those Kenyans who identify with either of the two main political alliances (including any of the affiliated parties), a clear split emerges, with the ruling-coalition Jubilee supporters somewhat more positive about the Chinese than the Americans: 33% vs. 29%. These figures stand in stark contrast to CORD, where the Americans win hands-down: 47% vs. 13%. By contrast, the UK, the country with which Kenya has perhaps the closest ties (in both economic and military terms, at least up to the present), scores far below either of the two super-powers: at just 7%, though again, a clear contrast in partisan terms emerges, with nearly three times more CORD supporters vouching for the British than do Jubilee-backers: 11% vs. 4%. Reversing the question, respondents were also asked which foreign country (again, outside the immediate East African region), they feel constitutes the biggest threat to the country’s political and economic development. Here, China and the U.S. receive almost equal (negative) ratings, with the former holding a slight (dis-) advantage: 28% vs. 21%. Moreover, once again a clear contrast emerges in terms of coalition alignment. For CORD loyalists, China is clearly the biggest worry (35%), while the Americans are most unsettling to those of Jubilee (28%), even if a substantial proportion of each also worry about the “Outside of East Africa, which country, if any, constitutes the biggest threat to Kenya’s economic and political development?” (By Total, Supporters of the Main Political Parties/Coalitions) Country Total (n=1,964) CORD Supporters (n=623) Jubilee Supporters (n=867) % Difference China 28% 35% 22% -13% USA 21% 16% 28% +8% UK 5% 4% 5% +1% Germany 3% 3% 3% 0% Japan 3% 4% 3% -1% Russia 1% 1% 1% 0% Sweden 1% 0% 1% +1% Nigeria 1% 1% 1% 0% South Africa 1% 1% 1% 0% Israel 0% 1% 0% -1% Saudi Arabia 0% 1% 0% -1% Netherlands 0% 0% 1% +1% Other 2% 2% 2% 0% Invalid 6% 7% 5% -2% DK 20% 15% 18% +3% None 7% 9% 7% -2%
  3. 3. Page 3 of 3 ‘other’ great power: 22% of Jubilee supporters regarding the Chinese, and 16% of CORD supporters about the Americans. Comment Because the survey did not go beyond these responses to ask why respondents hold the views they do on this subject, any explanation must be left to speculation. On the one hand, the U.S. is the home to a substantial Kenya diaspora population, estimated at over 100,000. Moreover, according to Ambassador Njeru Githae, Kenyans living and working are responsible for 85% of the total Shs 120 billion the Kenyan economy receives in remittances from the Kenyan diaspora worldwide. An additional factor in these ratings, however, maybe the perceived position of the ‘international community’ over Kenya’s cases (now remaining just one) at the International Criminal Court. On this issue, where only 22% of CORD supporters want the single remaining (Ruto-Sang) case to be dropped, an overwhelming 68% of Jubilee’s backers do so, their positions being reversed in terms of wanting the case to continue: 55% vs. 17%. Such contrasts may explain why both the U.K., whose High Commissioner expressed support for The Hague process before the election, and the Netherlands (where the Court is located, and whose government has been intensely involved in attempting to protect Prosecution witnesses) received more negative ratings from the Jubilee side, however small these are. Finally, regarding both ‘friend’ and ‘foe’ ratings, China may have won points mainly for its highly visible involvement in major infrastructure projects (e.g., highways, railway), though the fact the its most senior diplomats in Kenya have also expressed opposition to the ICC may also have contributed to the distribution of these perceptions as revealed in the survey. Based on these findings, the question arises as to whether future cooperation between the U.S. and Kenya regarding the al-Shabaab threat will significantly alter the public’s perceptions must remain for future surveys to reveal. In this regard, it should also be recalled that many Kenyans have argued since the 1998 Embassy bombing (if not from the Norfolk Hotel bombing in 1980), that it is Kenya’s ‘proxy’-association with the West’s global ‘war on terror’ that has attracted the wounds from which the country has continued to bleed. Survey Methodology The target population for this survey was Kenyans aged 18 years and above, of whom 1,964 living in urban and rural areas were interviewed. The margin-of-error attributed to sampling and other random effects of this poll’s sample size is +/- 2.2 with a 95% confidence level. The fieldwork for this survey was conducted between 28th March and 7th April 2015. Data was collected through face-to-face interviews using hand held devices (smart phones). Ipsos Limited (Kenya) funded the survey. For further details on this press release please contact: Dr. Tom Wolf Victor Rateng Research Analyst Opinion Polls Project Manager tpwolf1944@gmail.com victor.rateng@ipsos.com Tel: 386 2721-33 Tel: 386 2721-33 www.ipsos.co.ke www.ipsos.co.ke

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