China to appoint special envoy to Horn of Africa

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Rachelle Omamo with Wang Yi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China during a Ministerial Round table meeting in Mombasa on Thursday.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

China says it plans to send a special envoy to the Horn of Africa to help resolve conflicts and "support peace and prosperity".

Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi said the region’s countries should also take “their destiny in their own hands”, suggesting the countries hold peace talks.

The region’s stability has been undermined by conflicts in parts of Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia.

Mr Yi spoke in Mombasa when China and a Kenyan delegation led by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Rachel Omamo signed six bilateral deals in trade, ICT investment and agriculture that will see the East African country start exporting avocado and fish to its Asian counterpart.

Meanwhile, Mr Yi rejected claims that it lends money to African countries to trap the continent in debt.

The minister said those spreading false information want to damage its relations with African countries.

He said China will continue supporting African countries to combat challenges including poverty and underdevelopment.

“This so-called debt trap is not a fact; it's speculation being played out by some with ulterior motives. This is a narrative trap created by those who don’t want to see developments in Africa. If there is any trap it is about poverty and underdevelopment,” he said.

China, he said, wants to work with other countries that are friendly to African countries to eliminate poverty and underdevelopment and support the continent’s pursuit of independent and sustainable development.  

Infrastructural developments

“Our commitment is to being Africa’s good friend and partner. Our bilateral relationship has become a fine example of solidarity, cooperation and common development between China and Africa. We will continue to support each other,” he added.

Mr Yi said China will donate one billion vaccine doses to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As a friend of Africa, China will never sit idle. The vaccines will be delivered in every corner of Africa where there is a need. We have announced another 10 million doses of vaccines to Kenya. In the face of various acts of power politics, China and Africa will defend international justice and fairness,” he said.   

CS Omamo lauded the Asian country for standing by Kenya during its challenging times, saying China had helped Kenya with major infrastructural developments including the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

The multibillion-shilling SGR was built with a loan from China Exim Bank and launched in 2017 by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“China has supported Kenya’s national development agenda through extensive infrastructure development which has raised the stature of this country as a regional transport and communications hub. SGR stands out as a pivotal flagship project of the belt and roads initiative,” she said.

She was with Cabinet secretaries Mutahi Kagwe (Health), James Macharia (Transport, Housing and Infrastructure), Peter Munya (Agriculture), Ukur Yatani (Treasury), Betty Maina (Trade and Industrialisation) and Joe Mucheru (ICT).

In a poverty reduction and agricultural development initiative, China has donated 12,000 tonnes of rice to help families affected by the pandemic.

“Kenya lauds China’s contribution to the global development agenda and is pleased with the ongoing cooperation between the two countries at the United Nations Security Council and support to the African Union in the implementation of the peace and security mandate,” CS Omamo said.