, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 6 – A majority of Kenyans sampled in a recent study by Ipsos have singled out China as the most important foreign partner to Kenya followed by the United States and South Africa at 34, 26 and five per cent respectively.
The study conducted from 4 to 12 March which had 2,003 respondents sampled countrywide, however, shows a sharp contrast between supporters of the Jubilee Party and those of the Opposition National Super Alliance (NASA).
At 44 per cent, Jubilee supporters favour strong relations with China compared to 24 per cent of their NASA counterparts whereas 33 per cent of opposition supporters approve good relations with the US compared to 23 per cent of those in the Jubilee camp.
Ipsos Research Analyst Tom Wolf noted while releasing the findings on Friday an upward trajectory in the approval of relations with China even as the approval for relations with the US appeared to have been on the decline, the sharpest being recorded between August 2015 and June 2016.
“A third of NASA supporters think it is most important to have good relations with the US ten per cent more than Jubilee supporters,” Wolf noted.
“However 20 per cent more of Jubilee supporters think China is the way to go,” he observed.
According to Wolf, those in support of relations with China mostly cited economic benefits with those in support of the US singling out the fight against terrorism and election support.
“Fourteen per cent more of those who mention China, mention economic benefit. In fact, 95 per cent of the mentions for China are tied to economic benefit,” the research guru explained.
“With US there’s a little more variety: anti-terrorism 6 per cent, election support three per cent, anti-corruption effort two per cent etc,” he said.
The study whose margin of error was reported at +/¬- 2.16 per cent with a 95 per cent confidence level however identified China and the US as the greatest threat to Kenya’s economic and political development.
Cumulatively China was ranked as the highest threat with 17 per cent of the respondents identifying the nation as such, followed by the US at 14 per cent.
Japan and Russian at three per cent, and the United Kingdom and Russia at two per cent were listed third and fourth.
Whereas Jubilee supporters identified China as the greatest threat at 18 per cent compared to their NASA counterparts (16 per cent), the US was identified as the greatest threat by NASA supporters at 15 per cent.
Only 15 per cent of Jubilee supporters saw the US as a threat.
According to the Ipsos survey, China was perceived as a threat mainly because of economic losses attributed to the influx of cheap goods from the country.
The US, on the other hand, was viewed as a threat because of economic losses (66 per cent), undermining Kenyan elections (15 per cent), and undermining culture (7 per cent).
The perception of China and US as a threat has however recorded a sharp decline since April 2015.
In April 2015, the threat perception for China and US was 28 and 21 per cent respectively.
The survey was conducted through a random multi-stage stratified sampling methodology proportionate to population size in forty-five counties.
All respondents were adults aged 18 years and above both in rural and urban areas who were engaged through face-to-face interviews.