CAPE TOWN - China’s massive capital injection into key sectors of the Kenyan economy coupled with technology and skills transfer has unleashed prosperity and renewal in the East African nation.
Government statistics indicate that Kenya has received soft loans and grants worth billions of dollars from China since the country gained independence five and a half decades ago.
Interest-free loans from China are behind Kenya’s latest infrastructure modernization frenzy, growth of light manufacturing, innovations and skills upgrade among the youth.
Kenyans of a certain generation recall with nostalgia when China’s soft and hard power started making a significant difference in their lives.
Hillary Njuguna, a middle-aged father of three witnessed the construction of Moi International Sports Complex on the outskirts of Nairobi in late 80s by a Chinese contractor.
Njuguna said the largest modern sports complex in East Africa, whose construction was made possible by an interest free loan from China, remains an architectural marvel and an inspiration to youth aiming for a successful career in sports.
“As a young adult back in the late 80s and early 90s, a visit to Moi International Sports Complex to watch a football match was a thrilling experience.
"We also used to visit the stadium to participate in local athletic championships,” said Njuguna.
The blossoming Sino-Kenya ties have been accompanied by generous financial support to key sectors of the economy like manufacturing, energy, infrastructure, ICT, health, agriculture and tourism.
Experts from diverse schools of thought who spoke to Xinhua recently were unanimous that Chinese financial aid and technical support has transformed lives while accelerating growth momentum in the country.
In particular, they pointed at the monumental transformation in Kenya’s transport sector and commerce since the launch of China funded Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in May.
Professor Peter Kagwanja, the chief executive of Nairobi-based Pan African think tank, Africa Policy Institute, said Chinese aid had enabled Kenya to tackle endemic challenges like poverty, hunger, disease and unemployment.
According to Kagwanja, Beijing has been a dependable ally in efforts to uplift the living standards of ordinary citizens in Kenya and the greater Sub-Saharan African region.
Kenya has reached out to China in a bid to strengthen response to emergency disasters like droughts that have become frequent thanks to climate change.
The Chinese government in March responded to Kenya’s request for emergency food aid by donating 21 366 tons of rice worth about $22.5 million to tackle hunger and malnutrition in drought hit counties.
The rice is expected to support 1.4 million drought-affected people for one month.
Chinese businesses and individuals also came out strongly in support of Kenya’s drought victims by donating food, clean water and medicine.
-BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE