, JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Dec 6 – Sustained strategic partnership with China will help accelerate Africa’s development and contribute to the cause of safeguarding world peace, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
He said the mutually beneficial and respectful ties between Africa and China resonated with the 10-point cooperation plan presented by President Xi Jinping at the opening of the summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg.
The President observed that the Chinese leader’s proposal to establish partnership with Africa based on mutual trust at the political front and a win-win cooperation at the economic front was a step in the right direction.
“President Xi was not just all talk. He put $60 billion on the table to back his important statement,” President Kenyatta said.
He added: “China and Africa have the potential to achieve great things together. So let us do them.”
The Head of State spoke on Saturday during the Johannesburg China-Africa summit.
President Kenyatta said the enhanced cooperation with China is also in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 which seeks a peaceful, united and prosperous Africa.
“FOCAC is one of the strategic partnerships identified in Agenda 2063 as a key enabler to achieving the development goals of the African continent,” President Kenyatta said.
The President underscored the need to follow the fundamental principles of economy and build a market that is open and dynamic for the benefit of the people of Africa and China.
“Traction for growth is always found in people. The diversity of people in any country must be harnessed to become an engine, and never a distraction, for powerful growth,” President Kenyatta said.
He lauded FOCAC, saying it provided Africa and China a structured channel for closer economic partnership.
“The founders of the partnership had studied the lessons of history; they knew the realities of globalisation; they were moved by the legitimate aspirations of Africa and China’s peoples,” he said.
The President noted that FOCAC has become an important platform for collective dialogue and an effective mechanism of practical cooperation between China and Africa.
“It has proved a pragmatic partnership, focusing on industrial and financial co-operation, poverty reduction, cultural exchanges and peace and security. It reflects the strength of our fraternal relations, and our commitment to go boldly together into the future,” he said.
Statistics show that in 1965, trade between China and Africa was valued at $250 million. In 2000 when FOCAC was inaugurated, the trade volume shot to $10 billion. In 2014, it exceeded $220 billion.
Even as the cooperation between Africa and China grow to higher levels, President Kenyatta called for its entrenchment, particularly through FOCAC.
He expressed satisfaction that the Action Plan adopted at the summit places significant emphasis on Africa’s industrialization and mechanization.
“Africa rightly focuses on partnerships that develop the skills which will make the most of the opportunities presented by our rapidly growing sectors,” the President said.
He added: “As we develop our future workforce, we must therefore think more broadly about our capacity-based and technological investments that will cement our growth in years to come. But our ultimate goal is to build up our capacity to develop on our own feet.”
President Kenyatta said partnership with China has seen various Chinese companies working on over 80 development projects with a value of approximately $3.5 billion, all aimed at propelling Kenya to higher growth in line its national development blue print – Vision 2030.
“We are thus committed to strengthening the strategic partnership of political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchanges. We also recognize that China has been one of our key trading and investment partners,” the President said.
Presidents Xi and Zuma also addressed the meeting that brought together close to 40 African leaders.
Later, President Kenyatta held talks with the President of Huawei Technologies Eastern and Southern Africa region, Li Peng who was accompanied by other senior officials of the company.
The President also met ZTE Corporation Chief Executive Officer Shi Lirong.
The senior officials of the two Chinese companies separately briefed President Kenyatta on the progress of the projects their companies are implementing in Kenya.