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Interview: Kenya aims to make a real BRICS amid diversifying business with China: official


10:17, August 31, 2011

NAIROBI, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- The development of economic and trade relations between Kenya and China in the last decade is not enough and more efforts should be made by the two sides to diversify the two-way cooperation in various fields, a senior government official said in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.


"The major infrastructure projects in Kenya are being carried out by Chinese firms," Bitange Ndemo, the permanent secretary (PS) of Kenya's Ministry of Information and Communications said during the interview.

"You can't build a relationship from just business," he added, explaining that "We also need more Chinese tourists here, and more Kenyans to travel to China, that's how you build a relationship."

There are many areas where China can play a big role in Kenya- China economic relations and trade, he said, adding that Kenya would also wish that more Chinese drink more Kenyan coffee and tea.

"We need partnership in contract manufacturing. These will help reduce the trade imbalances and create a more sustainable cooperation between the two countries," he said.

Chunlin Han, the economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Kenya, echoed the Kenyan senior official by saying that new areas of cooperation can be focused on tourism based on Kenya's wide range of wildlife and the increasing interest of Chinese middle-class to travel across the world.

Recent statistics from the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism showed that the number of Chinese visitors to Kenya has been on the rise from 20,339 in 2009 to 28,000 in 2010.

Han added that another new area of cooperation which can help Kenya balance the trading terms is in manufacturing where Chinese companies can set up their factories here to supply to the East Africa market.

He said Kenya's geographical position in East Africa makes it an ideal launch pad for trade movements into other East African countries.

He cited the most recent case of China's vehicle manufacturer Foton, which is constructing a vehicle assembly plant in Kenya with an estimated annual output of 10,000 units of prime movers, tippers, buses, pick-ups and light commercial trucks.

"We shall support Chinese companies that are interested in setting up factories here because there is huge potential to be explored between our two countries," said the PS.

Han said China would also like to strengthen cooperation with Kenya in the manufacturing, machine building, automobile, new energy, agriculture, water supply system, and power generating sectors.


According to the PS, the fast economic growth of the new emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) have left a deep impression on him and Kenya aims to catch up with the BRICS as soon as possible.

"You have a 'BRICS' and K will make a real 'BRICK'" he said, adding that "Kenya is working real hard to be there so that we can have something like BRICKS- Brazil, Russia, India, China, Kenya and South Africa."

Kenya, a leading economic and financial hub in East Africa, wants to be "a middle-income country just like the BRICS", the senior government official said.

The PS believed that the best way for Kenya to catch up with the BRICS is to follow in the BRICS's footsteps in its process of realizing its long economic development program Vision 2030 with a view to "transforming Kenya into a newly industrializing, middle- income country able to provide high quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030," he said.

Under the Vision 2030, Kenya aims to achieve an average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 10 percent per year beginning in 2012 till 2030.

While referring to the so-called Chinese neocolonialism from the Western media, Ndemo said it is unwise to attack a country like China in reference to contracts won by Chinese companies.

He told Xinhua that the Chinese should take these complains as challenges.

"We need to develop the media much faster, and be more patriotic while putting national interest first."

Ndemo also pointed out that no one thinks in the same direction even the Western media also see things through their own lenses.

"Western media have not been able to report positively about Africa, even where we really deserve credit that this report has to be positive," he added.


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