By Xinhua writers Wang Jingyun, Gai
Boming, He Xianfeng BEIJING, (Xinhua) --
With a sparkle in his eyes, Edwin Mwenda said
moving to China four years ago was "one of the best decisions I
have made in life."
decided to come to China from Britain where he grew up and held
a decent job. His decision baffled his family and friends.
"They would have
expected me to continue my career in the UK because the job I
had there provided me with quite a comfortable life".
But I think China is
opening up for people around the world, especially those from
Africa, to come and study," said Mwenda, 30.
"China has a long
history and has made rapid progress in recent decades. I want to
know how China has achieved this and what Africa can learn from
In 2014, Mwenda
started his master's program in environmental science and
engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing and graduated in
2016, which he deemed his "greatest achievement" in China.
"The experience at
that university has given me a lot of valuable skills," he said
Now, Mwenda is
completing his Ph.D. in political economics at the University of
International Business and Economics.
Meanwhile, he has
put his knowledge to use by starting a project with friends,
with aims to improve the lives of small-scale farmers in Africa.
"We want to
integrate and package Chinese agricultural technologies to offer
advanced and suitable 'agricultural solutions' for Kenya and
Africa," he said.
Though rich in vast
arable land, Kenya, as well as many parts of Africa, are up
against various problems that lessen agricultural productivity
and keep farmers in poverty.
Mwenda pointed to a
map of Kenya, saying that half of the country's land was
difficult to farm due to drought, and underdeveloped harvest
facilities, poor crop management, lack of information and the
dysfunctional market do not make things any better.
"The conditions are
bad, but it also shows that Africa has large agricultural
potential," he said.
To help Kenya's
resource-poor farmers, Mwenda's team proposed comprehensive
solutions including biogas digesters, automated greenhouses,
solar-powered hardware, mobile technology software licensing for
payment, farm tracking and record keeping and agro-processing
The team named their
project "AHAVAH," which means "love" in Hebrew. Mwenda said that
this love goes beyond feelings alone, transcending into love
But the first step
is always the hardest, and it is even harder to start a
multinational project, he said, adding that one of the major
barriers is language. "I can only speak a little Chinese, and I
The team managed to
establish a pilot program. "We need to talk to more potential
investors and get further guidance from them, and find companies
that use the proper techniques," said team member Nelly Njoroge.
"If it can work, it
can be scaled up to include more and more farmers," Mwenda said.
"In doing that, they [Kenyan farmers] will not only be able to
feed themselves but also have an excess of product that they
could sell, enabling them to have the money to send their kids
to school and lead a better life."
Mwenda said China is
at the forefront of research in technology and know-how, and he
believed China's practices in handling issues during its
development in recent decades could provide solutions for
"[We hope] African
people can change their lives, how they see themselves and how
they can harness solutions on their own," he added.
Mwenda is not alone
in Beijing. Through the new talent start-up program "Cirrus
Project" initiated by the Zhongguancun "Belt and Road"
Industrial Promotion Association, over 20 international teams,
many of which are from Africa, have pursued their dream in
Although it is hard
work, Mwenda and his friends explain that they would like to
dedicate their passion, time and energy to push forward.
"We've seen a lot of
really positive responses," Mwenda said, "I am sure we will get
over that [the difficulties] with time."