Kenya signs 17 multi-billion deals with China


President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) shakes hands with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at State House in Nairobi May 10, 2014 after addressing journalists. EVANS HABIL

Seventeen agreements worth billions of shillings were Saturday signed as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang began his three-day visit in Kenya.

The agreements signed touched on various segments of the Kenyan economy and diplomatic relations with the giant Asian economy.

President Kenyatta and his guest witnessed key government officials signing the agreements at State House where the Chinese Premier was hosted Saturday morning.

On Sunday, the two leaders will be joined by four other heads of States; Presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania),Paul Kagame, Rwanda and Salva Kiir (South Sudan) and a representative of the Burundian government for further talks on regional integration, peace, security and infrastructure.

After the talks the leaders are expected to formally sign the agreement on the multibillion standard gauge railway project- a key infrastructural initiative at the heart of economic engagement between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

“Our talks, and the agreements we reached this morning, covered a variety of matters, but allow me to mention just three: the Standard Gauge Railway; the protection of our national heritage; and our region’s peace and security,” President Kenyatta revealed.

READ: China brings big muscle to Nairobi with Premier’s visit

President Kenyatta further stressed that his government was keen on ensuring a steady relationship with China which he said has resulted into a transformational infrastructural development over the past 12 years.

Said the President, “A critical lesson we have drawn from China’s remarkable growth over the last three decades is that prosperity is achievable with proper planning and prudent investment”.

The two government officials did not disclose the actual financial value of most of the agreements and protocols signed but their aides said the deals are running into billions of Kenya shillings with implementation expected inside five years.

And while addressing the joint press conference at State House Nairobi the Chinese leader whose coming to Kenya has elicited wide expectations from Kenya, said that his government would help in the establishment of an industrial park to support the country’s manufacturing sector.

“We are going to assist in the development of an industrial park in Kenya to support the manufacturing sector and aid economic growth,” Mr Li said.

Somali refugees

The Chinese government also pledged support for the repatriation of the Somali refugees residing in Kenya.

The issue of balance of trade that favours Beijing also came up with the Premier regretting the imbalance and promising that his government was working on helping Kenya to up her game in trade with China.

And on the wildlife conservation efforts which has brought China on the spotlight following the increase in poaching Mr Li announced a Sh860million (US 10 million dollars) financial support to wildlife conservation in the country and the continent.

The first agreement signed was on economic and technical cooperation approving grants of undisclosed value.

Chinese Minister for Commerce Gao Hucheng and Kenya’s National Treasury Minister Henry Rotich signed the agreement on behalf of the two countries.

The two further signed an agreement for undisclosed value of interest free loans to be offered to the Kenyan government by China and a frame work agreement on the provision of concessional loan between the two authorities.

It was still unclear what the intended loans would fund and the projects to be funded by the grants offered by the Chinese government.

Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on aviation cooperation with his Chinese counterpart Gao Hucheng, while in the Agriculture sector Felix Koskei and the Chinese Foreign Affairs minister Wang Yi signed an MoU on agricultural cooperation with the financial interests undisclosed.

Another MoU on Health cooperation, forestry and ecological conservation, establishment of a cultural centre were also signed.

Educational issues which are part of Mr Keqiang’s high profile visit also saw a MoU on the establishment on an ultra-modern joint laboratory for crop molecular biology signed which will cost Sh5.1 billion.

Also signed was a concessional loan agreement on Nairobi’s 132 KV and 66 KV network upgrade reinforcement phase II project which will see the Chinese Government provide support to increase supply of electricity

Mr Keqiang who is accompanied by his wife Mrs Cheng Hong will leave Monday having toured Nigeria, Ethiopia and Angola.