What you need to know:
- China is keen on increasing its presence in Africa with major infrastructure works ongoing across the continent.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda is headed for a boost after China said it is ready to increase its investments and promote manufacturing in the country and Africa.
President Kenyatta unveiled the plan pillared on food security, manufacturing, Universal Health Coverage and affordable housing in 2017, but has been affected during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking during a virtual Africa Annual Conference on China - Africa Cooperation 2020 on Tuesday, the Chief D’affaires of the Chinese Embassy to Kenya, Zhao Xiyuan said that China was ready to increase its investments and promote manufacturing in the country as well as other African nations in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic
He confirmed that 44 African states have signed an agreement to work with China and major infrastructures have been completed or underway in the continent.
“The Chinese economy is at an important juncture of promoting Africa’s growth and many are investing in Africa’s manufacturing landscape. We are ready to share experience of China’s manufacturing expertise. Covid-19 may continue for some time and we have to think on how to work in the manufacturing sector to boost growth,” the diplomat said.
He called on African states to support the United Nations and the World Health Organisation as they seek a solution to the ravaging pandemic.
Mr Zhao also urged the participants in the conference dubbed; “Enhancing China-Africa cooperation on fighting Covid-19 and promoting manufacturing,” not only to work together but also kill the negative aspects such as racism and ideological bias between the natives of Africa and the Chinese.
“Our priority should be on the areas of health, resumption to work formula, manufacturing and the improvement of livelihood. We must provide room for manufacturing cooperation and improve industrial parks,” he said.
The Secretary of State, Ministry of Trade and Industrialisation Dr Bruno Linyiru said that the China-Africa relations remains key in helping Kenya achieve its goal of promoting manufacturing.
“We have a mandate to promote manufacturing which is a key pillar in the Big Four Agenda and in line with Vision 2030,” he said.
The government seeks to increase Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product by at least 4-6 billion US dollars annually to transform the nation to a robust middle-income country by 2030. Special economic zones have also been set up to attract investments and create jobs in Kenya.
The manufacturing sector provides for at least 7.7 per cent of the nation’s GDP.
Kenya’s bilateral trades with China topped at Sh 382 billion in 2018. However, there was a trade deficit of 93 million US dollars as Kenyans imported goods worth 96 billion USD from China whereas China only got goods worth 3 million US dollars from Kenya.
Chinese scholar, Li Xinfeng noted with concern the rising coronavirus cases in Africa which surpassed the one million mark last week and said that China would not relent in the fight against Covid-19 and promote the warn relationship between China and Africa.
“Industrialisation is the key to help Africa achieve its target and counter external shocks. Prioritising manufacturing and industrialisation will go a long way in eradicating poverty in the long term,” Prof Li said.
Africa Policy Institute President and CEO, Prof Peter Kagwanja, shared his concerns over the changing patterns in the spheres of manufacturing and industrialisation in Africa that have been brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The entire globe is affected by the coronavirus pandemic and today, we will tackle key areas including the infrastructure development in Africa, the impact of the infrastructure development on Africa’s industrialisation and also how best to fight the Covid pandemic while promoting manufacturing opportunities available to promote China-Africa relations,” Prof Kagwanja said.
The Africa Policy Institute boss urged the participating countries and institutions to come up with a working formula on fostering China-Africa relations and come up with a joint approach in fighting Covid-19.
The collaboration between China and African states has greatly promoted growth in both Africa and China and so far, China has been the leading partner of Africa since 2009, Prof Kagwanja said.
So far, there are over 10,000 Chinese firms in the continent which have contributed at least 500 billion US dollars in Africa in the spirit of Africa rising.
Prof, Kagwanja congratulated China for establishing the Beijing Investment Stock in Africa whose current value is approximated to be over 100 billion US dollars.
Mr James Mwangi, the CEO at the Kurrent Technologies and member of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance said that the association held development talks with both public and private investors as well as regional governments and they were all ready to promote manufacturing.
“We are working to ensure that there is no space for Covid and we will conglomerate to make Africa a vital manufacturing centre,” Mr Mwangi said.