Presidents Kenyatta, Xi to meet in S. Africa to bolster ties

December 3, 2015
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President Kenyatta arrives in South Africa for the China-Africa summit.
President Kenyatta arrives in South Africa for the China-Africa summit.

, JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Dec 3 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and attend the second summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

The President arrived from Paris where he attended the 2015 Climate Change Conference, known by its acronym COP 21. He will join other African leaders and President Xi for a Summit expected to usher in a new era of development ties between African states and China, the world’s second largest economy.

Ahead of the China-Africa summit, President Kenyatta and President Xi will hold bilateral talks late on Thursday.

FOCAC is a platform established in Beijing by China and friendly African countries for collective consultation, dialogue and cooperation mechanism. Both China and African nations agreed on the need for a new strategic partnership that would promote ties based on equality and mutual understanding.

The two-day FOCAC Summit kicks-off in Johannesburg on Friday. It is the first time FOCAC is being held in Africa.

The Summit will have far-reaching significance in boosting comprehensive transformation and upgrading of China-Africa relations. It will also provide a historical opportunity to further strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in priority areas such as infrastructure, industrialization, agricultural modernization, health, people-to-people exchanges and peace and security.

This year’s FOCAC also comes at a time when Kenya and China’s development cooperation is at its apex, with several agreements already signed including the September 2015 deal to extend the Standard Gauge Railway project to Naivasha. The initial phase of the project was from Mombasa to Nairobi.

Relations between Kenya and China were elevated to a higher level by President Kenyatta when he made his maiden State visit outside Africa to China in August 2013.

Among key outcomes of the State visit were commitments by China to support Kenya’s development and establishment of a Comprehensive Cooperation Partnership (CCP) of equality, mutual trust, mutual benefit and win-win outcome.

As a show of the deepening relations, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Kenya last year. During the visit, 17 agreements that touched on various segments of the Kenya’s economy were signed. Key among them was the financing of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway project, which has employed more than 25,000 Kenyan engineers and workers.

At the continental level, the trade volume between China and Africa increased from $10 billion in 2000 to $220 billion in 2014. China’s investment to Africa also sharply increased from $500 million to $30 billion during the 2000 and 2014 period.

Africa has become the second largest market for China’s overseas project contracting. With over 2500 Chinese enterprises investing in Africa and creating more than 100,000 jobs, China-Africa cooperation has contributed over 20% of African economic growth.

In 2013, some 1.9 million visits were made by Chinese nationals to Africa, registering a year-on-year increase of 80.4%. A huge chunk of those visits were made to Kenya.

China has indicated its readiness to support the relocation of industries to Africa on a priority basis to create more jobs. Kenya has been identified as one of the three African countries to benefit from technology transfer, alongside Tanzania and Ethiopia.

The South Africa FOCAC summit will adopt the ‘Johannesburg Declaration’ and a Plan of Action, which will outline measures to consolidate the mutual partnership between Africa and China.

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