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Kenya expects further trade ties with China

By EDITH MUTETHYA in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-15 10:01
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A Chinese tourist takes a photo with Kenyans at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on Feb 11. HAN XU/XINHUA

Trade relations between China and Africa are expected to see a further rise this year, with the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of the International Chamber of Commerce-Kenya said.

Julius Opio, director of the chamber, said there are many opportunities for both Africa and China to enhance their trade relations this year and beyond, following further relaxation of COVID-19 policy in China that will facilitate international personnel exchanges.

In addition, the disruption of logistics over the last three years has created shortages of critical goods, so it is an opportunity for China to consider setting up manufacturing units in Africa.

"We can use COVID-19 lessons to see a situation whereby from a logistical angle, we minimize stockouts through having semi-processing and assembly of products in Africa," Opio said.

He said Kenya, for instance, the biggest economy in eastern Africa, has the capacity, skills and sufficient energy to run factories and that it can become the hub to re-export products across Africa.

"That way, it becomes a win-win situation whereby we create more jobs in Kenya at the same time importing materials from China for local assembly and manufacturing," he said.

Sectors such as electronics, information technology, hospitality, renewable energy and agriculture offer huge China-Africa trade opportunities this year.

Opio also said Africa has a vast resource potential for renewable energy, providing an opportunity for China to invest in the sector.

China is the world leader in solar power technologies, while Africa is the global leader in solar power potential, he said.

According to the International Energy Agency, Africa has 60 percent of the world's best solar resources, but only 1 percent of its solar photovoltaic capacity is installed.

In recent years, China has been Africa's largest source of investment in energy infrastructure.

Compared to other sectors, renewable energy projects attracted the lion's share of Chinese infrastructure development funding in Africa at $24 billion between 2007 and 2020, followed by transport and fossil fuel energy.

Opio said the exportation of agricultural products to China also offers a huge opportunity for African countries this year.

Last year, China signed exchange letters with 12 African countries on zero tariffs for 98 percent of their non-resource exports to the country.

China has also offered "green lanes" for African agricultural exports in recent years, and is planning to increase agricultural imports from Africa significantly over the next few years.

Opio said increased exports of African agricultural products to China can help in balancing trade between the two parties.

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