The Chinese government says it will not monopolise limelight as Kenya’s biggest development partner, amid criticism on mounting debt.
At a function in Nairobi on Thursday, Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Wu Peng said Kenya should benefit from all development partners, especially when it comes to the Big Four agenda.
“We are willing to strengthen cooperation with other development partners on the basis of keeping the leading role of Kenya, so as to achieve win-win outcomes,” he told guests at the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi.
“After all, China does not have its own agenda in Kenya. Kenya’s development priorities are also our preferred areas of cooperation.”
Wu, Beijing’s newest envoy to Kenya, recently embarked on fighting back critics of China’s development in Kenya, who accuse China of skewing its loan products and placing them in secrecy.
The former spokesman in the Chinese ministry of Foreign Affairs has argued that his country does not want to burden anyone with debt.
Owed about Sh534 billion, Beijing has risen to become Kenya’s highest bilateral lender. But the envoy said China’s contribution to Kenya should be seen as beyond the debt owed.
“China is dedicated to Kenya’s development with many efforts, far more than just loans,” he said.
The embassy claims China’s direct investment in Kenya reached $520 million (Sh52 billion) in 2018 and that Chinese enterprises in Kenya created more than 130,000 jobs.
“I always encourage Chinese companies to align themselves with the Big Four agenda by increasing investments in areas such as manufacturing,” he said referring to the government’s vision to improve food security, housing, healthcare and manufacturing.
Though Kenya’s biggest development partner through infrastructure financing, China’s trade with Kenya is still unbalanced, with Kenya selling goods worth Sh10 billion in 2018 and importing commodities worth Sh390 billion from Beijing.
The envoy did admit the imbalance but argued it can be helped by more investments in manufacturing.
“This will help Kenya achieve industrialisation and a favourable trade balance through implementation of import replacement.”
Author: Staff Writer