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Africa in the news: Kenya and Nigeria updates

Earlier this month, Kenya signed a trade deal with the United Kingdom, an agreement that will help Kenya avoid disruptions once the U.K. begins to transition out of the European Union on December 31. The agreement will ensure that Kenya will continue to enjoy quota-free and duty-free access to the U.K. marketThe U.K. is one of Kenya’s top trading partners, as it imports a large share of Kenya’s flower and tea exports and accounts for 43 percent of its vegetable exports. The two nations trade more than $1.8 billion of goods each year, with Kenya importing primarily pharmaceuticals, electronics, machinery, and cars. Though the details were not immediately clear, there is scope for other members of the East African Community (EAC) to join the trade deal at a later date.


Hours after Somalia announced that it was severing diplomatic ties with Kenya, Somaliland and Kenya agreed to begin direct Kenya Airways flights to the Somaliland capital of Hargeisa by March 2021. As part of the agreement, Kenya intends to set up a consulate in Hargeisa early next year. These two actions have both practical and symbolic significance. The route to Hargeisa would be the first destination for Kenya airways into a Somali area. In establishing a consulate, Kenya would join a growing list of countries—one which includes Ethiopia and Djibouti—that have set up diplomatic posts in Hargeisa.


Nigeria announced Wednesday that it would be reopening its borders after a 16-month closure due to disputes over smuggling. The administration announced that the main border crossings—at Seme, Illela, Maigatari, and Mfun—would open immediately, with the rest of the opening of the border by December 31. Notably, the existing bans on imports of rice, poultry, and other products will remain in place.

The closures have resulted in hits to the livelihoods of informal border traders and increases in transport costs—resulting in rises in food prices of 18 percent in November. The rise in food prices has exacerbated the economic challenges Nigeria was already facing, including a recession under COVID-19 and dropping oil prices.

Moreover, the border closures had threatened progress towards the implementation of the landmark African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

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