NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 12 – The Chinese government will fund major infrastructural projects to promote investment, that would see Kenya elevated into a middle level economy, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said.
Speaking during a Commemorative Scholarship Awarding ceremony in Kibera on Thursday, Mr Odinga said the China African Development Bank (CADB), which runs a multi-trillion shilling investment base, has expressed interest in the construction of the Lamu-Juba standard rail-line project, whose completion would link countries in the horn of Africa to the sea port.
He said the CADB, which plans to open a regional office in Nairobi to coordinate the infrastructural projects, was on the verge of completing the highway stretching from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Gigiri.
“The Chinese people are committed to support the construction of the Northern and Southern bypasses and the Thika Boulevard, which when commissioned will become Kenya’s largest and modern highway,” Mr Odinga stated.
He also said: “other ventures in telecommunication industry are also in the pipedream.”
China’s Ambassador to Kenya, Zhang Ming, who was a guest at the function, said China would strive to nurture “better, cooperative and bilateral relations” to strengthen mutual partnership for the good of the two counties.
Meanwhile, the PM urged the Chinese business community to increase imports of Kenyan tea in the Asian country to bridge the current trade imbalance for the mutual benefit of all parties.
“We need to prepare the next generation of our citizens to be ready to transact business with China, which last year alone had $1.4 trillion in its pocket, which it wanted to invest,” he said.
The premier observed that industrial growth was the ‘sole remedy for the poverty that afflicts the vast majority of our people’.
“Not only is China an industrial power, but also it has realised its enviable growth in a comparatively short time, rising from a peasant economy into a first world nation in 30 years. We believe with the right mix and learning Kenya can do the same,” Mr Odinga said.
During the ceremony, 45 students were given education scholarships by the Chinese embassy in Nairobi. The scholarships are tailored to benefit destitute students from the sprawling Kibera slums and enable the beneficiary students to study China in the 2009/10 academic year.
The PM said the footprints of the Sino (China)-Kenya relationship were evident in various initiatives, including the education, economic and non-commercial interests since the turn of the millennium, which coincided with the economic liberalisation in the country.
Higher Education Minister Dr Sally Kosgey, speaking at the function, announced plans to source for Educational, Science and Technological exchange programmes with the world’s most populous nation.