Kenya reaps real BRI dividends

By EDITH MUTETHYA in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily | Updated: 2023-05-26 09:56
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From left: A section of the Nairobi Expressway in Nairobi; the Liwatoni Floating Bridge that was built by China Road and Bridge Corporation has eased traffic congestion at the Likoni crossing channel located on the southern tip of Mombasa; people celebrate the opening of the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway on May 30, 2017. With projects including railways and bridges, the Belt and Road Initiative is adding ever greater connectivity to Kenya. DONG JIANGHUI/XINHUA;LI YAN/XINHUA;SONG FANGCAN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

Kenya and China are implementing agro-based operations around poverty alleviation and the BRI provides frameworks through trade to promote African produce in the Chinese market, Adhere said.

He also called for promoting greater people-to-people understanding between the two sides.

"China and Africa have a responsibility to ensure that their citizens are reading from the same script, which can be achieved through cultural exchanges, partnership and collaboration, especially between young people.

"This will ensure that they understand and support China-Kenya collaborations. It will also help in avoiding some of the negative rhetoric that has defined the China-Kenya relationship, which sometimes is not driven by Chinese or Africans but third parties."

The telecommunication sector also offers an important route to strengthen China-Kenya cooperation, he said.

This can be achieved through e-commerce, internet protocol implementation and investment in the ICT sector to promote communication and collaboration between China and Kenya.

He said the future of the BRI is very bright and it has revealed the integration potential for Africa, with the continent significantly benefiting from the initiative — Chinese firms have contributed more than 20 percent of Africa's economic development in the last decade.

"Large networks of transportation, energy and telecommunication projects have been implemented in partnership with China. We have not hit the ceiling yet, we have a lot more to gain through working together," he said.

Despite its heavy borrowing, Adhere said Kenya is at a lower risk of credit fault because of the political will to ensure that it observes its international obligations, including debt payment.

"Despite its debt challenges, Kenya is a very innovative and resilient economy. Up to 60 percent of Kenya's GDP is found in the services sector. Services as an industry relies on innovation so as we see more innovation, more young people becoming tech savvy, it means that the Kenyan economy will remain more resilient," he said.

Macharia Munene, a professor of history and international relations at the United States International University, Nairobi, said the BRI has had a very positive impact on Kenya in terms of communication and accessibility across sectors.

"The BRI has opened up remote areas that were previously inaccessible, leading to wealth creation and consequently reducing poverty," he said.

"In terms of operation, the SGR is very efficient, people are very happy and transportation has been eased and should be extended beyond the country. It enriches areas where it passes."

Munene said railways are public services, as opposed to purely profit-making entities, but when managed well, they can reap significant benefits.

"A public railway system opens up and creates opportunities for people to create wealth, hence it's a strategic investment, not in terms of profit but in the services it offers to the country," he said.

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