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Kenya seeks power, rail deals with China

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 4 – Kenya has appealed to the Chinese government to offer both financial and technical assistance to the East African Community (EAC) partner states particularly in energy and rail development.

The Minister for East African Community Prof Hellen Sambili said on Tuesday that the EAC had identified potential projects for joint promotion such as the proposed East African Power Pool and was therefore looking for support to improve power reliability in the region.

"Possible areas of partnership include development of renewable power generation projects such as geothermal and wind plants and cross-border electrification power interconnection," the minister said when she hosted a visiting Chinese delegation in her office.

Pointing out that the member states were implementing the East African Power Master Plan, Prof Sambili also asked for support in the development of petroleum pipelines. The region is currently undertaking a feasibility study for the development of Dar-es-Salaam to Mombasa gas pipeline.

The region is also seeking technical support for a taskforce that is looking to harmonise the policy and legal regimes for petroleum exploration and production in EAC.

On the rail front, the minister called on the Chinese government to partner with the EAC in upgrading the network into standard gauge as well as in the development of the new Lamu-Juba railway corridor.

Currently, the railway network which is on the narrow gauge system carries on average less that 10 per cent of the region\’s cargo, a situation that resulted in a strain on the road network.

However, the network upgrade as outlined in the EAC Railways Master Plan and which is estimated to cost of Sh2.3 trillion is expected to improve its capacity by over 200 per cent.

At the same time, Prof Sambili said Kenya could also benefit from China\’s expertise in the information technology sector and therefore urged the Asian tiger to help in the development of e-learning in local universities and other institutions of higher learning.
The delegation head Prof Yang Jiemian reiterated China\’s commitment to continue partnering with EAC Partner States in the development and expansion of the education sector in the region.

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Mr Jiemian who\’s also the President of Shanghai Institute for International Studies underscored the importance of education saying that the heavy investment in the education of young people had seen China and its neighbours such as Japan, Korea, India and Pakistan transform into emerging Asian economic giants and was therefore worth emulating.

And pointing to the unique position that is now being occupied by China in the global arena as the fastest growing economy in the world, he also emphasised the need for people in the region particularly the youth to learn the Chinese language.

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