Ties with Kenya ‘not just about re­sources’

Pres­i­dent hopes to learn from China, pro­mote tourism

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI LIANX­ING in Ma­sai Mara, Kenya lil­ianx­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The strong re­la­tion­ship be­tween China and Kenya is based on a wide range of part­ner­ships rather than min­eral or nat­u­ral re­sources, Kenyan Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta said, adding that it could be a model for China-Africa re­la­tions.

“There has been a ma­jor ac­cu­sa­tion that China is only in­ter­ested in ex­ploit­ing the min­eral re­sources of the African con­ti­nent. But China and Kenya have a strong and ro­bust re­la­tion­ship, and it’s not based on min­eral re­sources ex­ploita­tion, but based on in­vest­ment, man­u­fac­tur­ing and in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment,” Keny­atta told China Daily in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view be­fore his first state visit out­side Africa af­ter tak­ing of­fice in April.

Keny­atta is sched­uled to visit China from Aug 18 to 23, For­eign Min­istry spokesman Hong Lei said on Mon­day.

“There are in­deed many other ar­eas where we have seen a great deal of ben­e­fits from our re­la­tion­ship with China, and also there are some ar­eas we need to strengthen, as we know China is slowly be­com­ing one of our largest in­vest­ment and de­vel­op­ment part­ners,” Keny­atta said.

He also said China is crit­i­cal to Kenya’s trade and in­vest­ment, and he will ce­ment the al­ready good ties with China dur­ing his visit.

Trade vol­ume be­tween the two coun­tries reached $2.84 bil­lion last year, up 55 per­cent from 2010, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Com­merce.

“We also want to get first­hand de­vel­op­ment ex­pe­ri­ence from China, which is the source of suc­cess as the sec­ond-largest econ­omy,” Keny­atta added.

Both coun­tries em­braced new lead­er­ship this year, and Keny­atta said he and Chi­nese lead­ers are fac­ing com­mon chal­lenges. “China and Kenya should jointly drive the in­ter­na­tional agenda and play a big­ger role in the in­ter­na­tional plat­form to rep­re­sent de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.”

“We have a lot in com­mon in his­tory and could learn from each other,” he said.

Keny­atta said his coun­try has a lot to learn from China, es­pe­cially the model of eco­nomic growth, which has been based on the de­vel­op­ment of in­fra­struc­ture, man­u­fac­tur­ing and fully uti­liz­ing the po­ten­tial of youth.

“We have rapidly and in­cred­i­bly grow­ing eco­nomic mus­cles, and Kenya could learn from that par­tic­u­lar model,” he said, adding that Kenya has be­come an eco­nomic ser­vice hub for the Eastern African Com­mu­nity, an or­ga­ni­za­tion com­prised of five na­tions.

He also ex­pects his visit to fur­ther ex­pand co­op­er­a­tion in tourism mar­ket­ing, as well as en­cour­age more Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers to set up plants in his coun­try.

He said he wants to di­ver­sify his coun­try’s tourism mar­ket to at­tract more Chi­nese.

About 41,000 Chi­nese tourists vis­ited Kenya last year, an in­crease of 10.4 per­cent com­pared with 2011, ac­cord­ing to the Kenyan Min­istry of Tourism.

“Tra­di­tion­ally our tourism was look­ing to­ward Western Europe and the United States. But we are now re­ally mov­ing very fast to di­ver­sify our prod­ucts,” he said.

“As we con­tinue to en­cour­age the vis­its from tra­di­tional mar­kets, we also rec­og­nize the grow­ing im­por­tance of China, In­dia, South Africa and Brazil, as Kenya’s tourism re­sources are some­thing they were not fa­mil­iar with pre­vi­ously.”

The coun­try has pre­pared to wel­come more Chi­nese to travel to Kenya and Africa, Keny­atta added.

“We have a num­ber of pro­grams run­ning in the uni­ver­si­ties train­ing peo­ple to speak Man­darin,” he said.

He said Kenya pro­vides not only wildlife — tra­di­tion­ally known as the ma­jor part of Kenyan tourism — but also a rich cul­tural her­itage for in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors.

He said Kenya and other East African Com­mu­nity mem­ber coun­tries are try­ing to of­fer one-stop visas to at­tract in­ter­na­tional tourists.

“We have taken ac­tion and had dis­cus­sions with our part­ners in the EAC on the prospects of de­vel­op­ing a one-tourism visa that could en­able tourists who are ap­ply­ing to go to Kenya to also go to Rwanda, Uganda and other eastern African coun­tries,” said Keny­atta. “We are hop­ing that it could be re­al­ized very soon,” he said, adding that the visa could be is­sued as early as next year.

Uhuru Keny­atta, Kenyan pres­i­dent

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