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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya welcomes Chinese investment in
manufacturing sector to boost exports

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya is seeking to leverage on Chinese manufacturers setting up base in Kenya in order to boost exports, a senior government official has said.

Peter Munya, cabinet secretary for industry, trade and cooperatives told a trade forum in Nairobi on Tuesday that Kenya welcomes Chinese companies to invest in manufacturing and value addition in order to boost Kenyan exports.

A trade mission from China’s Anhui Province is currently visiting Kenya to explore business opportunities with the East African nation. According to Munya, there are more than 400 Chinese companies in Kenya.

“But we need many more Chinese firms especially in the manufacturing sector,” he said.

The Kenyan official said the government is working tirelessly on improving the investment climate which has witnessed an unprecedented improvement in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index with Kenya’s rank moving from 136 in 2014 to 61 in this year’s ranking.

Munya said that the government will support Chinese investors to do business in the country, noting that the large Chinese business delegation is an indication of their willingness to partner with Kenya in line with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

He said that Kenya is prioritizing expansion of market access for locally manufactured goods in order to lure more foreign investors to set up operations in the country.

Early this year, Kenya signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), said Munya. According to the African Union, 44 African countries have signed the AfCFTA as of March 2018.

He said that once it is operational it will bring together 54 countries with a combined population of over one billion and a gross domestic product of approximately 349 trillion Kenya shillings (about 3.4 trillion U.S. dollars).

Munya said that trade and investment play a significant role in the country’s growth and development through linkages to all sectors of the economy.

Li Xuhang, charge d’affaires at the Chinese Embassy in Kenya said that the Chinese government is encouraging its business community to invest in Kenya, adding that Kenya is also an important country in the Belt and Road Initiative and industrial cooperation.

He noted that Kenya is the gateway into East Africa due to its excellent geographic location as well as stable political and economic environment.

The diplomat noted that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda on affordable housing, universal healthcare, food security and manufacturing also provides opportunities for Chinese investors.

The envoy observed that China has become a major force for Kenya’s economic development because the Chinese enterprises operating in Kenya have created over 150,000 job opportunities for locals over the years.

Li said that over the years, Sino-Kenya relationship has been developing rapidly through improved mutual trust, pragmatic cooperation as well as growing people-to-people exchanges.

Zhou Xi’an, Deputy Governor of Anhui Province said that investors from his province are keen to invest in Kenya due to the strong complementarity between Kenya and China.

Betty Maina, principal secretary at Kenya’s ministry of industry, trade and cooperatives said Chinese companies will help Kenya to meet its industrialization agenda of expanding the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the economy.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

China funded training opportunities bridge skills gap in Kenya

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- China has made significant contribution to help bridge skills gap in Kenya by offering training opportunities for the country’s youth and civil servants, a Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday.

Guo Ce, economic and commercial counselor at the Chinese embassy in Kenya, said that development of a highly trained workforce has been at the heart of cooperation between Beijing and the east Africa’s largest economy.

“As one of the most promising resources of Kenya, human resource has always been an important area of deepening practical cooperation between China and Kenya,” said Guo.

He spoke in Nairobi during an event to conduct an end of year evaluation of Chinese technical assistance in training and capacity development in Kenya.

Senior Kenyan officials attended the ceremony to take stock of China funded technical training opportunities that has benefited public servants of all ranks, students and local staff employed by companies from the Asian country.

Guo said that nearly 10,000 Kenyan government officials have visited China to participate in training seminars under the Foreign Aid Human Resources Training Program launched by the ministry of commerce in 2001.

“After studying in China, many officials have been promoted or transferred to more important posts, and a lot of people hope to continue their studies in China,” said Guo.

He noted that China funded skills upgrade and vocational training programs have deepened friendship with Kenya while hastening the country’s socio-economic transformation.

“We are willing to continue to explore more convenient and efficient training platforms and strengthen human resources cooperation with Kenya,” said Guo.

Kenya is banking on closer cooperation with China in the area of human resources development to modernize the public sector and boost service delivery.

Simon Angote, acting secretary of human resources division in the state department for public service, said that China funded skills upgrade for Kenyan civil servants has enhanced their competence in strategic areas like trade, energy, telecommunications, diplomacy and security.

“It is worth noting that the 2019 proposed bilateral (Kenya specific) short-term training programs (to be offered alongside the multilateral programs) focuses on supporting the government’s big four agenda,” said Angote.

He said that an evaluation undertaken by the government two years ago revealed a huge demand for Chinese scholarships by Kenyan public servants since they enhanced their performance.

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Chinese-made products save Kenyans money and create jobs

By Bedah Mengo NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- When Judith Boke gave birth to her first son seven years ago, she bought baby diapers occasionally, using them only at night because the items were pricey.

“I used to buy a pack of 32 for about 800 shillings (7.8 U.S. dollars), which was expensive, so I agreed with my husband that we use nappies most of the time,” she said on Wednesday.

Today, Boke is finding her life much easier when nursing her two-month-old baby boy. She can afford to use diapers throughout the day as prices have dropped markedly after Chinese brands entered the market of the east African country.

The Chinese-made diapers are among myriad products from the Asian nation that have won the hearts of Kenyans. From clothes, furniture, house fittings and motorbikes to electronic items like TVs, radios and mobile phones and motorbikes, the Chinese-made imports have offered Kenyans affordable and quality options. Besides, they offer employment to hundreds of dealers selling them.

In downtown Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, quite a a number of shops sell items imported from China. At the OTC bus station, several shops lined up in a lane next to the terminus are manned with up to three people, one taking cash and the rest attending to customers.

There are at least 10 shops at the lane nicknamed Beijing. At one of the shops, attendant George Kamau is overwhelmed by customers amid brisk business.

“You can take an alternative diaper brand because the one you want is out of stock. It is as good as the other one,” he told a Somali woman on Wednesday, who was buying goods in wholesale for resale.

Away from OTC terminus, on River Road, another set of shops selling various Chinese-made items are lined up on the streets.

Several mobile phone shops are selling products from Chinese phone giants that include Tecno, Xiaomi and Huawei.

“This is brand new from China and you get it at the best price, only 45 dollars and you have a phone that has a camera, big screen, touch and radio. With this you will have no problem taking selfies,” a saleswoman said at a shop as she marketed a Tecno phone.

As markets and shops in the East African nation teem with Chinese-made goods making both buyers and sellers happy, Chinese-made motorbikes have also offered thousands of Kenyans jobs.

The Motorcycle Assemblers Association of Kenya and the ministry of transport estimate that there are close to 800,000 motorbike taxis, commonly known as boda bodas, on Kenyan roads, more than three quarters of which are imported from China.

Each rider makes an average of 9.8 dollars a day, which means the drivers are generating at least 7 million dollars a day.

The association estimates that some 5 million people across Kenya depend on the motorbikes for transport every day, as they offer livelihood to thousands of others who comprise of boda boda riders’ families.

“I bought my first bike made in China at 590 dollars from someone, which was secondhand, but from that machine I have been able to get two more in two years. I have now employed two people,” said boda boda driver David Kiarie.

Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, attributed Kenya’s love for Chinese goods to their affordability and quality.

“Kenyans embraced Chinese brands because they are affordable and of good quality. With incomes shrinking for some people and others stagnating, the Chinese goods are offering good bargains to consumers and jobs to the sellers,” he said.

At least 800,000 jobs were created in Kenya last year, according to the Economic Survey 2018, the majority of which were in the informal sector where traders selling the Chinese items belong. With imports on the rise, more jobs are expected to be created this year and in the years ahead.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics data show the value of imports from China last year stood at 3.8 billion dollars, up from 3.2 billion dollars in 2016.

             

 

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