China’s vision of an interconnected world with enhanced trade supports the African desire for shared prosperity, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
The President, who spoke during a roundtable summit of Heads of State and Government held at the Yanqi Lake Conference Centre, said Africa stands a chance to regain some of the missed opportunities of globalization, by playing an active role in the Chinese plan for an interconnected world.
The President, who has been in Beijing for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, said the Silk Road initiative by China fits well into the African Union agenda to create more infrastructure links within the continent.
“The Belt and Road initiative gives our continent the opportunity to make a paradigm shift. Post-colonial Africa has been stuck in a rut,” said the President.
He said the continent must move from being a mere consumer of imports of finished goods to become an exporter itself.
“Being part of One Belt allows the continent to move to a new platform, through which global collaboration will allow for value-addition, innovation, and increased prosperity,” said President Kenyatta.
The President said China has been a true friend of Kenya and has supported the efforts to transform the country.
He said the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway shows the tremendous potential for mutually beneficial strategic cooperation between Kenya and China.
The President said joining the Belt and Road initiative will open up trade and investment opportunities while also reigniting Africa own plan for regional and continental integration.
“It will be a win-win situation when our people have the skills, assets and financing necessary to participate in the development of the infrastructure corridors that will enhance connectivity, support trade and reduce the cost of doing business between our countries,” said the President.
He said this will secure good jobs and protect Kenyans from the burden of imprudent debt.
He said everyone wins when people have the technology to add value to Africa’s wealth of resources as it is key to the fair and unimpeded trade that benefits all.
“We will all win when the economic corridors we develop hasten industrialization; and when they hasten the development of domestic private-sector capabilities,” said President Kenyatta.
The President said infrastructure brings prosperity and African governments are working hard to strengthen connectivity on the continent.
“Roads, electricity, telecommunication and water empower our people, and bring prosperity and freedom. China has learned this lesson well and so has Africa,” said the President.
He cited the LAPPSET projects as one of the ambitious ventures which have been designed to link Africa from the East coast to the west coast.
The project — where Kenya is seeking partnership with the private sector to build a highway, an oil pipeline, a railway line and a sea port at Lamu connecting South Sudan and Ethiopia, — is designed to link up with another corridor from West Africa.
President Kenyatta thanked China for the role it is playing in improving the infrastructure connectivity in East Africa.
He also urged China to continue transferring technology to Kenya and the rest of Africa. President Kenyatta also urged China to recognise that Africa is looking for the promotion of free trade.