NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 28-Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa says he is confident that the bilateral relations between his country and Kenya will continue to yield benefits for both parties economically.
He cited the remarkable infrastructural development so far undertaken by China—including the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) as one of the milestones achieved so far.
“China and Kenya are each other’s good friends, good brothers and good partners. Over the past years, China-Kenya relations have continued to achieve significant outcomes, which have greatly invigorated our traditional friendship of over 600 years,” the ambassador said on Wednesday during celebrations to mark the National Day of the People’s Republic of China. .
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, who graced the occasion, said China is a critical player in the country’s development and called for continued cooperation.
“I am very delighted to note that China is a critical player in the implementation of the Kenya Vision 2030 and especially in the implementation of the capital intensive flagship projects such as the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line,” Muturi said, “The momentum on extending the line from Nairobi to Malaba via Naivasha and Kisumu is very satisfactory.”
The first SGR passenger train started operating on May 1, and has recorded tremendous improvement on passenger numbers that have hit more than 2,000 daily. The project was undertaken at a cost of USD3.8 billion.
The project is the largest infrastructure project with a Chinese concessional loan, the biggest individual overseas project constructed by a Chinese company and the largest overseas project implemented by China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) which is putting it up jointly with the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).
The Vision 2030 flagship project is the first new railroad and the largest construction project ever undertaken by the government since independence in 1963 with projected benefits in providing catalysts and impetus for the growth of neighbouring landlocked countries.
The government estimates that the new rail line will contribute to Kenya’s Growth Domestic Product by 1.5 percent, drive the development of related industries and promote Kenya’s foreign trade besides creating more than 30,000 jobs.
It is estimated that one in every five Kenyan youth in the working age group of 18 and above is unemployed, the highest in East Africa-according to a recent economic survey of 2016 which shows that there were 128,000 jobs created in the formal sector in 2015 alone, accounting for 15.2 per cent of the 841,600 jobs generated last year.
Kenya is a beneficiary of the China-Africa relations which were elevated by Chinese premier Li’s visit to the African Union headquarters in May 2014 when he also visited Kenya.
This was a culmination of agreements between President Kenyatta and Xi Jinping in Beijing and in South Africa where both heads of state agreed to implement major projects such as the railway, special economic zone and realize the bilateral cooperation featuring mutual benefit and win-win results.