Author: E. E. Fourie.
Last month, the two East African leaders met in Addis Ababa to discuss the deepening of bilateral ties. Over the course of four days, each expressed a commitment to regional security, to the newly ratified Special Status Agreement (SSA) concluded between the two countries, and to ambitious joint infrastructure projects such as Kenya’s Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor.
But while Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta may well share a desire for deeper cooperation in these areas, the similarities between the two men run deeper. Each heads one of the region’s largest, most populous countries, in which the stakes for developmental success are at their highest. Each is untested and relatively new as a leader, with serious questions hanging over the ability and willingness of each to unite his country behind a common developmental agenda. And each succeeds a national leader who has attempted to forge such a common agenda by drawing lessons from a source that some will find surprising: East Asia.