NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7 – Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s visit to Kenya this weekend is expected to have a great impact on the country’s image despite the recent numerous terrorist attacks.
Kenya Investment Authority Managing Director Moses Ikiara says his visit indicates that Kenya is determined to go on with investment and development strategies despite insecurity, among other challenges.
Speaking to Capital FM Business, Ikiara said this will also demonstrate China’s support for Kenya as the latter deals with the terror threats, to not only protect its citizens but its economy too.
“The fight against terrorism is not for Kenya alone; we only happen to be in the frontline of the battle now. Other countries need to join China and show solidarity as we fight the challenge,” he said, “This is not the time to sit on the sidelines.”
During his visit from Friday through to Sunday, Kenya and China are set to sign a number of trade agreements with areas of focus being trade, infrastructure, science and technology among others.
Li arrived in Ethiopia on Sunday for the start of a four nation Africa tour including Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Angola.
“The message is that despite the security challenges, Kenya’s is still a safe bet for bilateral cooperation and underscore Kenya’s strategic role in terms of economic, diplomatic and security in the wider East Africa region. It’s a positive endorsement or publicity for Kenya,” economic analyst Paul Otung notes.
In August last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta visited China, where he secured Sh425 billion through various agreements.
These included Sh340 billion which covered economic partnerships, wildlife protection, and the standard gauge railway linking the port of Mombasa and the border town of Malaba. Another Sh85 billion was for energy-related projects.
“This visit together with Kenya’s visit earlier on last year, will strengthen relations between the 2 countries and will boost our economy via trade and investments,” Ikiara says.
Critics have argued that China’s main focus is not necessarily to boost Kenya’s economy, but to benefit from Africa resources as it also seeks market her goods due to increased productivity.
Old Mutual Chief Investment officer Peter Anderson however sees Kenya’s relationship with China as mutual where both countries want to benefit from each other.
“For almost 25 years, we have known China to be very conservative and perhaps it’s their time to open up. I see nothing wrong with them re-opening their markets; I mean everyone is travelling to different countries to do trade,” he tells Capital FM Business.
Kenya’s trade between Kenya and China had grown from Sh11.9 in 2000 to Sh284.6 billion last year.