On March 22, I arrived in Nairobi to start my tenure as the 16th Chinese Ambassador to Kenya and Permanent Representative to Unep and UN-Habitat.
Already, I have travelled to several cities, visited projects, including the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and met with some Kenyan friends from different walks of life. I am delighted to notice the thriving development in every sector here, verified by the hustle and bustle on construction sites.
I sincerely admire the great achievements made by the Kenyan government and people. I feel strongly that the China-Kenya relations are experiencing unprecedented opportunities. It’s my honour to be accredited to Kenya at this particular time, when all conditions are favourable to foster even stronger ties.
I am at the right place. Kenya enjoys unique and favourable natural conditions and a diversified culture, which endows itself with vigour and vitality. Since independence, the hardworking Kenyan people have developed this fertile land into a hub for trade, finance, transportation and international communication in East Africa. Kenya is playing an increasingly essential role in both international and regional affairs. Towards Vision 2030 and Big Four Agenda proposed by President Kenyatta, people from all sectors are striving for achievements, which is changing Kenya in a better way every passing day.
It’s a good time for me to be here. The China-Kenya relationship is at its finest in history. President Xi Jinping and President Kenyatta have strengthened China-Kenya relations into Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership. The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) will be held in Beijing later this month, when President Kenyatta will once again visit China to meet with President Xi and other state leaders.
The second China International Import Expo will be held in Shanghai this November, which would bring about another promotion opportunity for Kenyan coffee, tea, flowers and other agricultural and tourism products. This year, we will also celebrate the second anniversary of the opening of SGR as well as the completion of SGR Phase 2A. China-Kenya cooperation is certainly embracing a brighter future.
Based on the common aspiration of our two peoples, China-Kenya pragmatic cooperation has been flourishing. Infrastructural cooperation has covered various fields, including railways, roads, airports, ports, communication, housing, water supply and power.
The Mombasa-Nairobi SGR, as one of the benchmarks of BRI, has been completed in advance and operated safely and smoothly. Over 2.71 million passengers have travelled with SGR, with an average attendance rate of 99 per cent. Around 4.04 million tonnes of goods have been transported through the railway, with economic indicators surpassing expectations.
China and Kenya are working closely on the construction of Mombasa Special Economic Zone and Naivasha Industrial Park, which will certainly benefit Kenya’s industrialisation efforts.
Twyford ceramics project Phrase II has been officially put into operation. The solar power station in Garissa is now connected to the grid for power generation. Projects for people’s livelihood like “Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages” are now in place.
The recently signed Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPSS)agreement is opening a new gate for the healthy and balanced development of bilateral trade. In 2018, China’s non-financial direct investment in Kenya has witnessed double-fold increase to about US$520 million.
Both sides enjoy frequent exchanges in education, science and culture. The China-Africa Joint Research Center and China-Kenya Laboratory for Crop Molecular Biology were established in Kenya.
In 2018, around 170 Kenyan students were awarded China-sponsored scholarships for further study in China. 686 Kenyans were trained in China. At the same time, over 81,000 Chinese tourists travelled to Kenya.
This month, 55 outstanding Kenyan employees picked by Chinese enterprises are flying to China for a one-week visit. We believe they would enjoy hospitality of the Chinese people, witnessing China’s development and achievements, and pushing forward more cooperation.
China-Kenya relations are standing at a higher stage with new development opportunities. I will live up to my mission and make into full play the favourable conditions of “good timing, right place and right people”. Together with our Kenyan brothers and sisters, we will surely promote our bilateral cooperation in all sectors, enhance mutual understanding, and open a new chapter for China-Kenya friendship.
Wu Peng is the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya.