Kenya lauds Belt and Road Initiative as best model for growth of Africa

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Monday that the Belt and Road Initiative is the best model for Africa’s desired progress, Xinhua reports.

Kenyatta told a round-table summit of global leaders in Beijing that the continent is poised to regain some of the missed opportunities of globalization by playing an active role in the China-proposed initiative for an interconnected world.

“The Belt and Road Initiative gives our continent the opportunity to make a paradigm shift. Post-colonial Africa has been stuck in a rut,” Kenyatta said in a statement issued by the Kenyan Presidency in Nairobi.

“Being part of One Belt allows the continent to move to a new platform, through which global collaboration will allow for value-addition, innovation and increased prosperity,” reads the statement.

The Kenyan leader, who has been in Beijing for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, said that the Silk Road initiative fits well into the African Union agenda to create more infrastructure links within the continent.

He added that the continent must move from being a mere consumer of imports of finished goods to become an exporter itself.

Kenyatta said China has been a true friend of Kenya and has supported the efforts to transform his country, noting that the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway shows the tremendous potential for mutually beneficial strategic cooperation between Kenya and China.

The President also said that Joining the Belt and Road Initiative will open up trade and investment opportunities while also reigniting Africa’s own plan for regional and continental integration.

“It will be a win-win situation when our people have the skills, assets and financing necessary to participate in the development of the infrastructure corridors that will enhance connectivity, support trade and reduce the cost of doing business between our countries,” Xinhua quotes Kenyatta say

Uhuru further said, “We will all win when the economic corridors we develop hasten industrialization; and when they hasten the development of domestic private-sector capabilities.”

In his keynote speech at the forum, President Xi Jinping said China will provide relevant international organizations with 1 billion U.S. dollars to implement cooperation projects that will benefit the countries on the Belt and Road.

Kenyatta, who also inked various agreements with China during his visit, said that the Belt and Road Initiative will secure good jobs and protect Kenyans from the burden of imprudent debt.

He lauded China for the role it is playing in improving the infrastructure connectivity in East Africa, saying infrastructure brings prosperity and African governments are working hard to strengthen connectivity on the continent.

“Roads, electricity, telecommunication and water empower our people, and bring prosperity and freedom. China has learned this lesson well and so has Africa,” he said.

29 heads of state and government and delegates from 130 countries attended the Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing on May 14-15

The Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by Xi in 2013 with an aim to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes. It comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road