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China's work produces visible results in Kenya

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

08-14-2015 15:37 BJT

By Dr. Miroslav Atanasov, Renmin University of China

Last month, July 2015, I visited the Republic of Kenya - a beautiful country in East Africa with pleasant climate and a myriad of natural beauty and wildlife. Home to famous National Parks like Maasai Mara and Amboseli, Kenya is a hotspot for international tourism. Africa's Great Rift Valley runs from the north to the south of the country's western part. Kenya's major exports are flowers, tea, and Arabica coffee beans. The city of Nairobi is the capital.

This was my second visit to Kenya. The first one was in November 2007 – about a month before the infamous Christmas election, the disputed results of which incited the so-called "Kenyan Crisis" – a violent tribal conflict that destabilized the country and left over a thousand people dead and many more displaced.

Recently, many tourists were discouraged from visiting Kenya because of the brutality of the extremist group based in neighboring Somalia. However, I was pleased to make the journey to see the country and her wonderful people again. While giving lectures at a conference near Oloitoktok, I enjoyed the hospitality of Kenya's notorious Maasai – a pastoralist tribe that have mostly preserved their traditional culture.

The development I witnessed since my first visit was impressive. One major factor in Kenya's recent progress, has been the country's increased cooperation with China. A number of new roads and infrastructure projects had been constructed with the assistance of Chinese companies; one such was the Thika Superhighway completed in 2012 connecting Nairobi with Thika Town on the international route to Moyale, Ethiopia.

A massive project soon-to-be underway is the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), which will connect Kenya's capital city with its important Indian Ocean coast  - a crucial line for East Africa’s development and trade. The China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which will be constructing the railroad, attaches great importance to staff localization, according to Li Juguang, the project deputy manager. The line will be 485 km long, it will cost 13 billion US dollars, and it will provide 30,000 jobs for locals. Chinese companies are also active in the potential exploration of Kenya’s oil, gas, and coal deposits.

An important point of Chinese involvement is the media. The central studios of CCTV AFRICA, based in Nairobi since 2012, engage many Kenyan employees and cover Africa’s news from an African perspective. 

My trip coincided with U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Kenya - his father's homeland. This high level visit disrupted regular life in Nairobi for a couple of days due to the extensive security measures that normally follow US presidents on their foreign travels. From Kenya Mr. Obama flew to Ethiopia and became the first American President to address the African Union on July 28th. One statement in his speech in Addis Ababa was particularly interesting: 

"Now, the United States isn't the only country that sees your growth as an opportunity. And that is a good thing. When more countries invest responsibly in Africa, it creates more jobs and prosperity for us all. So I want to encourage everybody to do business with Africa, and African countries should want to do business with every country. But economic relationships can't simply be about building countries’ infrastructure with foreign labor or extracting Africa’s natural resources. Real economic partnerships have to be a good deal for Africa — they have to create jobs and capacity for Africans."

While accepting the fact that African countries are free to look for other partnerships, Obama clearly jabbed at the Chinese involvement on the continent. In all fairness that subtle criticism was not really justified by the facts on the ground. China has offered and continues to offer a viable alternative to the African countries, which allows them to move away from their former dependencies on the west and its restrictive institutions. The European colonial period, characterized by brutal crimes and pillage of African resources, is long gone. China's presence as an equal partner is welcomed as a positive and encouraging factor on the continent. Also the new partnerships being forged with other major world players, such as India, Brazil, Russia, Malaysia, and Turkey, are quite promising in the current rise of Africa.

The Kenyans I talked to, said they were pleased with the Chinese work, because it produces visible and tangible results. President Uhuru Kenyatta made the following statement during Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Nairobi in 2013: "Kenya and China's friendship has reliably yielded mutual advantage. China also as we all recognize possesses political, diplomatic, and financial assets, which if fully applied will be a game-changer in the region's peace and security effort. That is why we seek a deeper engagement with China on issues of critical importance. We are confident that the partnership between Kenya and China will continue to flourish and grow."


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.





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