NAIROBI, KENYA: People need to create a better understanding to situation before dismissing US president Donald Trump over his ‘shithole’ remarks on some African countries.
Appearing on a TV talk show during his recent US tour, President Uhuru said he now has a better understanding of President Trump reporting that he is a leader ready for deals contrary to other people’s perception.
Zeinab Badawi of BBC questioned President Uhuru over his meeting with Donald Trump less than a year when he used a vulgar expression in January when talking about immigrants from Haiti and African countries during a meeting with lawmakers in the Oval Office.
The president allegedly called those nations “shithole countries” when complaining about their immigrants to the United States.
“Let me put it to you this way, what we need is a better understanding of the situation and I think I had an opportunity to do that during my recent visit to Washington DC, Trump has a much better understanding of Africa and Kenya and I think basically he is a person who wants to do deals,” said President Uhuru.
“I wouldn’t want to look at it from past issues, can we do business, that’s how I want to look at it going forward,” he added. “We are saying that Africa is ready for business and looking for partners who share and we need to put the true picture of who Africa is today.”
South Africa, one of Africa largest countries protested the remark with her foreign ministry calling the remarks ‘crude and offensive’.
“Relations between South Africa and the United States, and between the rest of Africa and the United States, must be based on mutual respect and understanding,” the foreign ministry said in January statement.
President Uhuru said Africa welcomes partnerships from all corners of the World but not on a patronizing basis.
Commenting on the Sh3.2 billion dollars Standard Gauge Railway built by the Chinese from Nairobi to Mombasa, the president dismissed claims that the project is three times expensive in the industry.
He said the project involved replacing the entire railway system built over 100 years ago. “It wasn’t expensive looking into the fact that we had to take care of environmental issues, we had to ensure that the railway didn’t become an impediment to what Kenya is known for…its parks, the environmental aspects were very unique and we covered them,” he said.
During his tour in America two US companies agreed to invest $238 million (Sh24 billion) worth of projects in Kenya targeting energy and food security even as US President Donald Trump hailed ties between the two countries as "tremendous." Trump said the trade ties were getting "bigger" and some "excellent deals" for both countries were in the offing.
"We have a tremendous relationship with Kenya. We have terrorism, a lot of trade, getting bigger all the time we are working on a major infrastructure project, a massive roadway that will be record-setting. We are going to conclude a lot of things, we have the president's representative in the next room and we are going to be making some excellent deals for both countries," he said.
Trump was lobbying to have a US firm - Bechtel - to be awarded contract for the construction of Sh380 billion six-lane Mombasa-Nairobi expressway. President Uhuru Kenyatta said his meeting with Trump would renew and further strengthen ties especially in trade and investment.