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Special> Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Visits Africa> Opinion
UPDATED: May 8, 2014
Chinese Premier's Visit to Open New Chapter in Sino- Kenya Relations

Kenya is set to open a new era of cooperation with China when Premier Li Keqiang visits the country on Friday, a senior government official said Tuesday.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho lauded China's contribution to socio-economic development in Kenya, which he said is set to expand during the visit.

"China is a rapidly growing economy and as a country we have identified where our priorities are by involving strategic partners like China to develop infrastructure, industries and commerce," Kibicho told Xinhua in an exclusive interview in Nairobi.

He said the two countries are set to sign a series of bilateral agreements during Chinese premier's visit which kicks off on Friday, and areas to be focused include the health, trade and infrastructure sectors.

"The agreements will signify to the world that Kenya and China mean business," Kibicho said. Statistics shows bilateral trade volume between the two countries grew from 137 million U.S. dollars in 2000 to 3.27 billion dollars in 2013.

Partner that doesn't impose conditions

Kibicho said in the past few years both nations have intensified their economic and cultural diplomatic ties. "China is one of our development partners that don't impose conditions on us, " he said.

"We like partners who understand our local situations and respect our basic sovereign rights," he added.

His numerous visits to China since 2002 were an eye opener due to rapid transformation the Asian giant had undergone. "China is amazing in many fronts including rapid industrialization and economic growth," Kibicho said.

Kenya in its refined foreign policy has focused on strengthening bilateral ties with emerging economies like China, India and Brazil. Kibicho hailed the economic partnership with China for transforming the lives of ordinary Kenyans.

He said that there is no better demonstration to the close ties than the agreements that were signed last year during President Uhuru Kenyatta's visit to China.

"Action speaks louder than words and Kenya prefers partners who do not attach conditions. China is building our roads, ports, airports and railways. In the last few years, we have invited Chinese investors in all sectors of the economy," said Kibicho.

"When we carried out an analysis of our priorities, we have discovered that China can help us achieve them," the Principal Secretary said.

He added that Kenya is currently concentrating in improving its information communication technology, roads, railways and airports.

He noted that China is also helping the East African nation to provide finance to its business community.

"The country has also opened up to Chinese investors because of the benefits that they offer to Kenya citizens," Kibicho said.

He said that Chinese firms tend to get most of infrastructure government projects because they are best qualified.

"When we advertise the contracts internationally, it is Chinese firms that tend to offer the best quality and price compared to other competitors," he said.

Peace and security cooperation

The PS said Kenya will continue to cooperate with China in eliminating the menace of piracy along the Indian Ocean coast. The area handles a lot of cargo traffic between China and the East African region.

He said that cooperation in the last few years has led to a drastic reduction the number of incidents of piracy. "This has reduced the cost of doing business in Kenya," Kibicho said.

The PS clarified that while Chinese firms winning tenders in Kenya to develop infrastructure projects through a fair process, China and Kenya are also cooperating in order to restore peace in South Sudan.

He said that Kenya is surrounded by nations that are unstable including Somalia, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

"We know that if Kenya is not secure, it will not be able to attract foreign investors," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 7, 2014)

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