What you need to know:
- China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, contributing more than 20 per cent of its growth.
- Many flagship projects — including the African Union Conference Center and the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway — have been completed.
I was kind of disappointed somehow, frankly, upon my first-ever arrival at JKIA on August 29, 2008. A very friendly and hospitable airport.
But, wasn’t its size too modest for a regional hub, a favourite destination for tourists worldwide?
My disappointment proved short-lived. In the following three years, I enjoyed my frequent visits to JKIA each and every time.
As the Deputy Chief of Mission, I was there on a monthly basis. I departed from the familiar JKIA in late July of 2011, permanently.
Not that permanent, though. On August 31, 2020, I arrived at JKIA once more, flying Kenya Airways from Guangzhou. Imagine my excitement to serve my country for a second time in a great nation which I always proudly refer to as my second home!
While sharing my excitement with Ambassador Samuel M. Gitonga, who was there to meet me all the way to the lounge, I was very impressed by the big change in JKIA. Expanded. Upgraded. With the same old hospitality.
Development holds the key to a better life. All countries are entitled to development and progress, a right our peoples are exercising in pursuit of the Chinese Dream and the Kenyan aspirations.
Can any country achieve desired development without requisite infrastructure? Not China, I know.
Be it air-road, water-road, highroad, railroad, digital-road or other roads, in China we often say, “to build fortune, roads should be built first”. And as I understand, infrastructure is topmost on the list of the foundations for socioeconomic transformation according to Kenya Vision 2030.
One brochure in my office, Kenya’s Industrial Transformation Programme, published in July 2015, is fresh to me. In his message, President Uhuru Kenyatta mentions the construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR), development of Lapsset, generation of additional electricity, construction of new roads and, not surprisingly, the upgrading of JKIA.
I am all too glad to learn that several development projects in Kenya are in partnership with China. In fact, infrastructure connectivity is part of the Eight Major Initiatives of the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) Beijing Summit.
On October 12, China’s President Xi Jinping and President Macky Sall of Senegal, the current African co-chair of Focac, issued a joint congratulatory message to mark the 20th anniversary of Focac this year. They said Focac has grown into an important and dynamic platform for Sino-African dialogue and a crucial flag for South-South cooperation.
In 2019, direct Chinese investment stock in Africa topped $49.1 billion (Sh4.9 trillion), up by nearly 100 times from 2000, as China-Africa trade reached $208.7 billion, 20 times more.
China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, contributing more than 20 per cent of its growth. Many flagship projects — including the African Union Conference Center and the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway — have been completed.
Cooperation in fields like science, education, culture, health, people-to-people exchange, peace and security is making headway.
The fruitful and wide-ranging cooperation between China and Kenya is a vivid epitome of and stands out in Sino-African cooperation.
The China-Kenya relationship, already upgraded twice in recent years, is at its best.
Focac, composed of China and 53 African countries and the AU, is by no means “one versus 54” but “54 plus one”.
China never interferes in African countries’ pursuit of development paths that suit their own national conditions, never imposes its will upon others, never attaches strings to its assistance and never seeks political gain in investment and financing cooperation.
What we have gone through together shows we are more than partners; we are comrades-in-arms.
China will work with Kenya to take forward the Belt and Road cooperation and implementation of the outcomes of the Focac Beijing Summit and the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against Covid-19 .
We shall progress the comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership for greater benefits to both peoples.