Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta enjoy a game drive at the Nairobi National Park on Saturday. Li signed deals for China to help Kenya's anti-poaching efforts. Photo: Reuters

Nairobi - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang signed a string of economic deals with Kenya at the weekend on the final leg of his four-nation Africa tour that has underscored Beijing’s growing ties with the continent.

After talks with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Li and his delegation signed 17 agreements that include provisions for economic co-operation grants, interest-free and concessional loans and assistance to build a new railway link from the port city of Mombasa to Nairobi and the rest of east Africa.

Wildlife conservation was also on the agenda, with Li keen to show official Chinese support for Kenya’s efforts to combat the rampant poaching of elephants and rhino in the face of huge demand for ivory and rhino horns in Asia, particularly China.

One of the agreements covered the provision of equipment for Kenya’s embattled anti-poaching force.

At a joint news conference, Kenyatta thanked China for its “continued support and co-operation in our effort to combat and eventually eliminate the illegal trade in ivory, as well as in our other initiatives to preserve our natural heritage”.

He also stressed “Asia and Africa’s common struggles against imperialism and colonialism”.

Li has been on his first tour of Africa since taking office last year, with the world’s second-biggest economy keen to boost its presence on the continent to find new markets and opportunities.

Li was expected to also meet regional leaders yesterday in Kenya, including Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Salva Kiir of South Sudan, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. - Sapa-AFP