NAIROBI, May 9 -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's upcoming visit to Kenya, the last leg of his first Africa tour as premier, is expected to diversify bilateral cooperation in politics, economy, finance, environment and technologies, officials and experts said.
"The visit is another handshake across hemispheres between China and Kenya and will promote the comprehensive and cooperative partnership in all aspects," Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa told a news briefing Monday.
Li's ongoing Africa tour has already taken him to Ethiopia, Nigeria and Angola, and he is scheduled to arrive in Kenya on Friday night.
In Kenya, Li is scheduled to sit down for talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta on bilateral ties as well as regional and international issues of common concern.
The two leaders would also witness the signing of nearly 20 bilateral cooperation deals and memoranda of understanding, according to Liu.
During his stay in the East African country, Li is also scheduled to meet officials from the United Nations Environment Program and the United Nations Human Settlements Program, visit the China-Kenya cooperative program with Kenya National Youth Service, and tour Nairobi National Park.
Kenyatta met Liu last Saturday and said that Li's visit would boost bilateral relations and is crucial for the development of East Africa.
Kenyan Foreign Affairs and International Trade Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said Tuesday Li's visit would increase China's role in Kenya's socio-economic development, and open a new chapter for bilateral relations.
Kenya established diplomatic relations with China soon after its independence in 1963.
Kenyatta, who has adopted the "Look East" policy, visited China last August, during which the two countries agreed to upgrade their ties to a comprehensive and cooperative partnership.
Kibicho hailed China as Kenya's true partner which helped the country's development without imposing additional conditions.
"We like partners who understand our local situation and respect our basic sovereign rights," he said. "China is amazing on many fronts, including repaid industrialization and economic growth."
Dr. Gerishon Ikiara, a diplomacy scholar from the University of Nairobi, told Xinhua that Kenya has revamped its foreign policy and its "Look East" policy has brought various benefits to the country.
Li's visit, which will cement bilateral cooperation in various areas, was warmly awaited in the country, he said.
Liu said China has provided sincere and lasting assistance to Kenya within its capacity and has attached great importance to projects that improved people's lives and the regional integration of East Africa.
According to China's customs data, China-Kenya trade volume has risen from 137 million U.S. dollars in 2000 to 3.27 billion dollars in 2013.
China is now Kenya's biggest source of foreign direct investment and its second-largest importing country and trading partner.
Statistics show that, up to the end of 2013, Chinese direct investment in Kenya, covering areas including manufacturing, energy, construction, real estate development, tourism and trade, totaled 537 million dollars.
About 50 Chinese companies are involved in Kenyan projects in the areas of transport, communication and electricity infrastructure, according to a newly released Kenyan official report -- A Journey of Friendship and Cooperation.
The World Bank has described the Mtito-Andei-Bachuma Gate Road, built by a Chinese company, as "the model investment project in Africa," It is now generally called the "China Road" by local people, according to the report.
The report also said Chinese loans would support Kenya's flagship projects, including construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway and the Nairobi Greenfield International Airport Projects
The two projects will set up the foundation for Kenya's economic take-off as an important regional hub, according to the report.
"When we advertise the contracts internationally, it is Chinese firms that tend to offer the best quality and price compared to other competitors," Kibicho told Xinhua.
Meanwhile, Chinese technology is expected to help Kenya become a regional center for information, communication and technology (ICT).
"China is involved in the (Kenya) development of national optic fiber. It has supported the establishment of government data centers and a unified messaging system," ICT Ministry technical manager Francis Mwaura told Xinhua.
"China's heavy presence in Kenya's ICT sector is discernible and fruitful," he said.
He said Li's visit is expected to create more opportunities in the ICT sector, a major source of jobs for youth and identified as the industry of the future in Kenya.