China / Across America

Kenya: Belt-Road's link to Africa

By Amy He in New York (China Daily USA) Updated: 2017-04-28 11:53

Kenya is expected to play a key role in China's Belt and Road Initiative through the development of a standard gauge railway and infrastructure that will bring better relations with its neighboring countries and more opportunities for its citizens, said Kenya's permanent representative to the UN.

"The more we can have better infrastructure in Kenya - and we're not just talking about road infrastructure, we're talking about air infrastructure, sea infrastructure, digital infrastructure - all this allows us to be of better service to our neighbors and of better service to our people," said Macharia Kamau on Thursday.

The economic impacts of better service and development will help reduce chances of extremism, he said. Kenya shares a border with Somalia to its north, and both nations have been impacted by terrorist acts of the Al-Shabaab group.

"The Belt and Road Initiative is a way of approaching international development," Kamau said. "In the case of a country like Kenya, it is trying to ensure that although Kenya is a port country, it connects itself through the sea, with the rest of the world - that's the 'Belt' part.

"The 'Road' part of it is when it comes to connecting the rest of the countries around us - Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC (the Democratic Republic of Congo), and even further, Somalia - recognizing that these are countries that are regionally connected to us," he said.

The Standard Gauge Railway, a $3.6 billion project that is 90 percent funded by a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China, will connect Mombasa, Kenya's major coastal city, to Nairobi, its centrally located capital. Construction on the project began in 2013 and is expected to be completed by year's end.

The railway is a flagship project in Kenya's 2030 development agenda, shortening travel time and costs and increasing capacity for cargo. Forty stations will be built along the 378-mile long railway, and approximately 30,000 jobs were created for the construction of the project.

"[The Belt and Road Initiative] is a way of thinking that recognizes that we can all contribute in a manner in which we do not have to be exploitative of each other," Kamau said.

"It is a way of recognizing that we live in an interconnected world, where balance - both in policy matters, in trade matters, in matters of people-to-people exchanges - all these balances have to be done right for the world to remain a peaceful place, and for us to attain sustainable development," he said.

Kenya's sustainable development agenda, called Vision 2030, includes goals for sustained economic growth of 10 percent per year, social development in a "clean and secure environment" and an accountable democratic political system.

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