The U.K. has signed counterterrorism agreements with Kenya and Somalia to enhance cooperation against shared threats such as Al Shabaab, cybercrime and human trafficking.
In Nairobi, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace signed a refreshed security cooperation agreement following high-level talks with Dr Fred Matiang’i, Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for the Interior, and Dr Monica Juma, Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Defence.
The deal will see the two nations meet regularly to share information on terror groups, target their backers with financial sanctions and undermine their recruitment efforts.
Wallace said that Kenya has long been the U.K.’s defense partner of choice in East Africa. “Both our nations face shared threats, from violent extremism to organized crime. The security agreement we have signed will allow us to deepen our relationship and tackle regional defense issues as partners.”
The signing comes as the Ministry of Defence works towards the publication of the Integrated Review later in the year, which will look to strengthen Britain’s security and intelligence cooperation with key allies.
The U.K. currently has around 230 military personnel based permanently in Kenya, and Britain is the largest cumulative investor in the East African nation, with bilateral trade totalling over £1.4 billion in 2019. Last month Kenya signed a trade deal with the U.K. to deepen this relationship.
During his visit to East Africa the Defence Secretary also traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia, where he met President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo to reaffirm the U.K.’s commitment to helping the government build up its armed forces to combat terror groups like Al Shabaab. The British Army has over 50 personnel based in the country, and recently trained the 500th Somali soldier in basic infantry skills, with plans to train up to another 600 in 2021.