, BEIJING, China, May 15 – China on Monday elevated its bilateral relationship with Kenya to one of strategic cooperation as Chinese leaders pledged to support Kenya achieve its development goals.
To mark the enhanced cooperation, the two countries entered into multi-billion deals when President Uhuru Kenyatta held bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
China offered Kenya a grant of Sh19.2 billion to mark the elevation of the two countries relationship to that of comprehensive strategic cooperation.
Kenya also got another pledge of RMB150 million (Sh2.4 billion) for drought mitigation measures and another $5 million (Sh500 million) to support Kenya on refugee affairs.
President Kenyatta, who met the two leaders separately at the Great Hall of the People, also walked away with more funding for infrastructure projects including $161 million (Sh16.5 billion) for the construction of the Nairobi Western bypass.
The Chinese government also supported Kenya’s request for $3.59bn (Sh369 billion) from the Exim Bank of China for the construction of the third phase of the SGR from Naivasha to Malaba through Kisumu.
During the bilateral meetings, Kenya and China also agreed to designate the SGR as a critical route that needs enhanced security.
Premier Li said China will support Kenya with the technological requirements for the surveillance of the route as it also enhances the capacity of Kenyans to manage the role.
He said China is keen to see that the SGR is not only completed successfully but that it also runs smoothly.
President Xi said China will be represented at the launch of the SGR by a high level delegation led by a special envoy and two ministers.
He also said that China will prioritise capacity building for Kenyan engineers and technicians who will manage the SGR and the trains.
China is also seeking closer cooperation in the aviation sector where Kenya can buy Chinese made aircraft. In turn China will apply an open skies policy for Kenyan airlines to fly to any part of China.
Kenya and China also signed agreements aimed at boosting Kenya’s economic production capacity.
The deals signed included agreement of a framework of cooperation between the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives on Strengthening Cooperation in Production Capacity.
The agreement was signed for Kenya by Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed.
President Kenyatta and President Xi also witnessed the signing of an agreement on economic and technical Cooperation. The agreement was signed for Kenya by Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed.
The two leaders also witnessed the signing of a treaty on extradition between Kenya and China, which was signed by Attorney General Githu Muigai.
President Kenyatta commended the Chinese President for inviting him to China to be part of the launch of his Belt and Road initiative.
“The Initiative is a vision for long term cooperation. It no doubt has the potential of bringing positive energy in promoting international economic cooperation if we seize the opportunities it provides,” said the President.
He said Kenya and the rest of Africa embrace the Chinese vision as a road to prosperity since it will promote investment in highways and railways to boost trade.
“As you most aptly said during your recent tour of Africa “the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation is intimately tied up with the African Dream of self-reliance and development,” said President Kenyatta.
The Head of State also reached an agreement with President Xi that China will support the vision to extend the SGR to Uganda and Kigali, Rwanda.
“In the spirit of shared prosperity and friendship, I wish to assure Your Excellency of our desire to cooperate closely with you, to build an even stronger strategic partnership,” said President Kenyatta.
The bilateral meetings were held after the end of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation after which President Kenyatta wrapped up his visit to Beijing.