NAIROBI — Kenya hosted the China-Africa Infrastructure Cooperation Seminar on June 25 amid calls for enhanced ties with Beijing to boost modernization of roads, ports, railways and telecommunication networks in Africa.
The two-day meeting was organized by Chinese Embassy in Kenya, Kenyan Ministry of Transport and Nairobi-based think tank, African Economic Research Consortium (AERC).
James Macharia, the cabinet secretary for the Ministry of Transport, said in his opening remarks that the China funded Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) remained a model for cooperation with Beijing to boost infrastructure development and realize socio-economic transformation.
“The SGR project is a game changer. Its benefits are in line with the government’s Big Four Agenda,” Macharia remarked adding that extension of the modern railway project toward the border with Uganda will stimulate trade and industrialization along its corridor.
He hailed the launch of SGR commuter and cargo transport services terming them a game changer in movement of people and cargo between Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa.
Zhou Yuxiao, China’s ambassador for Affairs of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and Sun Baohong, Chinese ambassador to Kenya, joined policy makers and scholars at the forum to discuss infrastructure development as a key pillar of Sino-Africa ties.
The China-Africa Infrastructure cooperation forum which focused on the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR project was the sixth one to be held in the continent ahead of FOCAC summit in Beijing in September.
Zhou said China is committed to supporting modern infrastructure projects like the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR to accelerate sustainable development in Africa.
“In cooperation with Africa, China attaches great importance to the economic and social benefits of the projects. It advocates that large infrastructure construction and industrial development should be planned and carried out in parallel so as to make them mutually reinforcing and strengthen Africa’s capacity for sustainable and self reliant development,” Zhou remarked.
Sun Baohong, the Chinese ambassador to Kenya, said Africa’s economic prosperity hinges on development of modern infrastructure projects.
“The economic takeoff of African countries, Kenya included, cannot be realized without the elevation of infrastructure,” Sun remarked.
“Infrastructure cooperation is one of the priorities of China-Africa cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative,” she added.
Lemma Senbet, the executive director of Africa Economic Research Consortium (AERC), said China has emerged as a dependable partner in Africa’s infrastructure modernization.
“No doubt that the China-Africa economic cooperation is at the center of transport and physical infrastructure development,” said Senbet.
He noted that China-funded infrastructure projects have boosted regional integration, access to markets and financial sector development.