Kenyatta in China for infrastructure summit

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President Uhuru Kenyatta arrived in Beijing today to attend a major summit on infrastructure and hold bilateral talks with Chinese leaders on trade and development.

President Kenyatta arrived from London, UK, where he met Prime Minister Theresa May on bilateral issues including a trade pact after Britain leaves the European Union, heard from British investors about their new investments and jobs opportunities for Kenyans, and also attended a summit on Somalia’s reconstruction.

President Kenyatta is among 28 world leaders invited to the development summit whose theme is “strengthening international cooperation and co-building the ‘belt and road’ for win-win development.” The only other African leader attending the summit is Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

It was to Beijing that President Kenyatta made his first State visit out of Africa after taking office. That visit resulted in financing for the first phase of the Standard Gauge Railway from Mombasa to Nairobi, which has been completed on budget and 18 months ahead of schedule — with more than 30,000 jobs. President Kenyatta will take the official inaugural ride on the train on May 31.

China has also partnered with Kenya over the years in the delivery and upgrading of major roads including the Nairobi northern, southern and eastern bypasses.

“The President is delighted to be here to continue with the task of seeking to expand Kenya’s infrastructure, including roads and rail links. These are important cogs in building the environment that creates jobs needed by Kenya’s youth,” Presidential Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said.

“He comes from London where he had a most successful visit; with the UK government and investors committed to deepening partnerships and ploughing new money into Kenya projects,” Mr Esipisu added.

The China forum is centred around the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative. The initiative aims to promote common development through win-win cooperation and Kenya stands to benefit since it is part of the countries covered by the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

“It is about linking Asia with Africa, and from our perspective, linking Africa coast to coast,” President Kenyatta told media last week.

Kenya has benefited from its close cooperation with China and some of the significant projects resulting from the partnership include the Standard Gauge Railway and the first three berths at Lamu Port, currently under construction.

The President is accompanied by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

During bilateral talks with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, President Kenyatta will discuss bridging the trade gap which heavily favours China, investments in new economic zones, and financing the extension of the SGR from Naivasha to Malaba through Kisumu. Financing is already available for the section from Nairobi to Naivasha.

President Kenyatta is scheduled to hold a host of meetings with other global leaders. With the leader of Pakistan, he will discuss global efforts in fighting terrorism, while other discussions will focus on deepening economic cooperation.

On her part, the First Lady is due to visit the Beiing Women and Children Service Centre.

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