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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya eyes science linkages with China to spur economic growth

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya is seeking more science and technology partnerships with China in order to spur economic growth.

Moses Rugutt, Director General of National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI), told Xinhua in Nairobi that Beijing’s economic development in the past three decades hinged on innovations arising from investments in science and technology.

“China is among the countries that we are seeking to establish more linkages so as to help build our expertise in various science disciplines in order to catalyze our economic growth,” Rugutt said on the sidelines of the Seventh National Science Week which runs until Friday.

Rugutt said Kenya as a low middle income nation is yet to fully develop a robust research and development industry due to a number of financial and technical challenges.

“We are therefore keen to borrow lessons from nations that are at the forefront of technological innovations such as China,” he said.

Kenya and China have already established partnerships in the higher education sector. Rugutt said the Chinese government has offered scholarship opportunities to Kenyan students to learn in various fields of education in China.

The Director General noted that Kenya’s Egerton University and China’s Nanjing University are already collaborating in the area of agricultural development.

Under the Sino-Kenyan cooperation, Egerton University will receive assistance in development of high yielding crop varieties that will be made available to Kenyan farmers.

The government hopes that the new crop varieties will help boost Kenya’s food security.

According to NACOSTI, the involvement of Chinese firms in the construction of major infrastructure projects has been of enormous benefit to Kenya.

“The Kenyan personnel who have worked for the Chinese construction firms have received advanced technology and expertise from China,” Rugutt said.

He added that Chinese presence in the Kenyan economy is bound to have lasting positive impact on the well-being of Kenyans.

In addition, the Chinese government is supporting the Kenyan Technical Vocational Education and Training Institutions with modern equipment to boost technical capacity of Kenya’s human resource.

The Kenyan government also plans to open technical training institutions in each of the 47 counties in order to spur innovations in technology.

As part of the Sino-Kenyan education cooperation, Kenya’s Kabete Technical Institute and Nyeri National Polytechnic have been selected to manufacture mechanical spares which will be exported to China.

The move aims to build the technical capacity of Kenyans to produce products that are globally competitive.

Rugutt also noted that Kenya is seeking to follow in the footsteps of China by increasing investments in research.

He noted that while Chinese investment in research and development is close to three percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Kenya’s investment is less than one percent of GDP.

According to government data, the National Treasury will allocate 30 million U.S. dollars for research activities in Kenya.

The funds will be used to buy equipment for research laboratories as well as to finance those who have innovative ideas that can be commercialized.

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EARLIER REPORT:

Growing Chinese travelers a boon to Ethiopia service industry: experts

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- As the number of Chinese travelers to Ethiopia steadily rises, the service industry in the East African country is among those that have received the most benefits.

The airline industry and the tourism sector, in particular, have gained from the growing Chinese travelers, according to the Ethiopian Airlines Group and the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

According to the Ethiopian Airlines Group, which is considered the largest airline group in Africa, close to 4,000 Chinese passengers currently use the Ethiopian airline’s flight services on a daily basis.

Ethiopia’s flag carrier in its report presented to the Ethiopian parliament last month indicated that “Chinese passengers represent one of the largest customer bases of the airlines.”

The Ethiopian airlines group, which is widely recognized as one of Africa’s fastest growing airlines, has been frequently expressing its interest in attracting Chinese passengers into the African continent and beyond.

Esayas Woldemariam, Managing Director of Ethiopian airline’s International Service, recently told Xinhua that the airlines has strong aspirations to grow its relations with Chinese customers towards being “the most Chinese-friendly transit hub and airline in the African continent.”

Explaining why the Ethiopian airline is preferred by majority of Chinese passengers, Woldemariam said that “we have a Chinese help desk here at the hub for passengers passing through here to Africa and coming back, we have Chinese dedicated staff here, we have Chinese crew on board, we have Chinese food, and we have Chinese call-center.”

The airline also celebrates Chinese festivals in a bid to attract its Chinese customers, which include a special event for Chinese nationals returning home for the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival every February.

Ethiopian Airlines is currently the biggest carrier of passenger and cargo between China and Africa, with 5 destinations in China that are Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou. The company has also finalized its preparations to add Shenzhen on the list.

Another service sector that strongly benefited from international Chinese visitors is Ethiopia’s tourism industry, in which the East African country has recorded 169.6 million U.S. dollars in revenue from 45,307 Chinese tourists that visited the country in 2017.

Chinese tourists are the largest group of tourists to Ethiopia. The 2017 Chinese tourists figures have shown a steady increase from 2016 numbers, which stood at 41,659.

Speaking to Xinhua, Gezahegn Abate, Public and International Relations Director at Ethiopia Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MoCT), said that the ministry is “encouraging Chinese investment in Ethiopia’s hospitality sector with a view to dramatically increasing the number of Chinese tourists.”

The ministry further announced its hopes that the increasing flight connection between Ethiopia and Chinese destinations will help sustain the steady increase of Chinese tourists to Ethiopia.

Ethiopian airlines group had previously revealed its aspirations to represent the bigger share of the Chinese tourists’ market, which at more than 120 million is estimated to be the single largest tourist numbers globally.

In an interview with Xinhua, Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO of the Ethiopian Airlines Group, has said with the air carrier having a presence in China since 1973, one of the handful foreign airlines pioneers at the time, it has been a witness to the economic transformation of the Asian giant.

“Today, China is the single largest market for Ethiopian Airlines with 5 destinations and more than 31 total weekly flights,” he said, adding that ET has the largest market share on flights between China and Africa, employing dozens of Chinese nationals as cabin crew members in its flight to China.

           

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