Chi­nese do­na­tion to Kenya is enor­mous

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Chris­tine La­gat

CHINA’S mas­sive cap­i­tal in­jec­tion into key sec­tors of the Kenyan econ­omy cou­pled with tech­nol­ogy and skills trans­fer has un­leashed pros­per­ity and re­newal in the East African na­tion.

Gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics in­di­cate that Kenya has re­ceived soft loans and grants worth bil­lions of dol­lars from China since the coun­try gained in­de­pen­dence five and a half decades ago.

In­ter­est-free loans from China are be­hind Kenya’s lat­est in­fra­struc­ture mod­ern­iza­tion frenzy, growth of light man­u­fac­tur­ing, in­no­va­tions and skills up­grade among the youth.

Kenyans of a cer­tain gen­er­a­tion re­call with nos­tal­gia when China’s soft and hard power started mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in their lives.

Sino-Kenyan ties

Hil­lary Nju­guna, a mid­dle-aged fa­ther of three wit­nessed the con­struc­tion of Moi In­ter­na­tional Sports Com­plex on the out­skirts of Nairobi in late 80s by a Chi­nese con­trac­tor.

Nju­guna said the largest mod­ern sports com­plex in East Africa, whose con­struc­tion was made pos­si­ble by an in­ter­est free loan from China, re­mains an ar­chi­tec­tural marvel and an in­spi­ra­tion to youth aim­ing for a suc­cess­ful ca­reer in sports.

“As a young adult back in the late 80s and early 90s, a visit to Moi In­ter­na­tional Sports Com­plex to watch a foot­ball match was a thrilling ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We also used to visit the sta­dium to par­tic­i­pate in lo­cal ath­letic cham­pi­onships,” said Nju­guna.

The blos­som­ing Sino-Kenya ties have been ac­com­pa­nied by gen­er­ous fi­nan­cial sup­port to key sec­tors of the econ­omy like man­u­fac­tur­ing, en­ergy, in­fra­struc­ture, ICT, health, agri­cul­ture and tourism.

Ex­perts from di­verse schools of thought who spoke to Xin­hua re­cently were unan­i­mous that Chi­nese fi­nan­cial aid and tech­ni­cal sup­port has trans­formed lives while ac­cel­er­at­ing growth mo­men­tum in the coun­try.

In par­tic­u­lar, they pointed at the mon­u­men­tal transformation in Kenya’s trans­port sec­tor and com­merce since the launch of China funded Mom­basa-Nairobi Stan­dard Gauge Rail­way (SGR) in May.

Pro­fes­sor Peter Kag­wanja, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Nairobi-based Pan African think tank, Africa Pol­icy In­sti­tute, said Chi­nese aid had en­abled Kenya to tackle en­demic chal­lenges like poverty, hunger, disease and un­em­ploy­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Kag­wanja, Bei­jing has been a de­pend­able ally in ef­forts to up­lift the liv­ing stan­dards of or­di­nary cit­i­zens in Kenya and the greater Sub-Sa­ha­ran African re­gion.

Kenya has reached out to China in a bid to strengthen re­sponse to emer­gency disasters like droughts that have be­come fre­quent thanks to cli­mate change.

The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment in March re­sponded to Kenya’s re­quest for emer­gency food aid by do­nat­ing 21 366 tons of rice worth about $22.5 mil­lion to tackle hunger and mal­nu­tri­tion in drought hit coun­ties.

The rice is ex­pected to sup­port 1.4 mil­lion drought-af­fected peo­ple for one month.

Chi­nese busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als also came out strongly in sup­port of Kenya’s drought vic­tims by do­nat­ing food, clean wa­ter and medicine.

Chi­nese aid has en­abled Kenya to tackle en­demic chal­lenges like poverty and hunger.

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