Chinese enterprises at center of Kenya’s transformation, pandemic response: report

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Chinese business entities have been at the center of Kenya’s socioeconomic transformation besides helping the country withstand COVID-19 pandemic shocks, says a report that was launched in Nairobi Wednesday.

The Chinese Enterprises in Kenya Social Responsibility Report covering 2020-2021, under the theme “New Start, New Chapter,” underscores their significant contribution to spurring growth while fostering friendship between two long-standing allies.

In attendance at the report’s launch included Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Zhou Pingjian, senior Kenyan Officials, industry executives, employees and beneficiaries of Chinese enterprises operating in the East African Nation.

“Looking ahead, Chinese enterprises in Kenya will have a more glorious mission, and enjoy a brighter future that promises greater potential for cooperation,” said Zhou.

Compiled by Kenya China Economic and Trade Association (KCETA), the corporate social responsibility (CSR) report notes that its 107-member companies have rallied behind the country’s long-term development blueprint.

“Over the past 20 years, Chinese enterprises have firmly seized the opportunities presented by Kenya’s Big Four Agenda and actively moved to assist its Vision 2030,” says KCETA.

According to the CSR report, the Chinese firms have been at the frontlines of infrastructure modernization, industrial progress, technology and skills transfer in Kenya besides supporting a wide range of charitable causes.

Notably, the report says that Chinese enterprises have employed more than 60,000 Kenyans as they surpass 90 percent localization target, adding that in the process, revitalization of domestic human resource potential has been achieved.

During the implementation of modern infrastructure projects like the 480-km Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, roads, bridges and ports, Chinese enterprises have financed the construction of classrooms, water points and health centers to benefit local communities.

In addition, the Chinese companies had by September 2021 donated more than 65 million shillings (about 575,730 U.S. dollars) of medical supplies, including 800 liters of medical alcohol, 24,000 pairs of gloves, 500,000 masks and 4,000 protective suits to boost COVID-19 fight in Kenya, according to the report.

Paul Maringa, the principal secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works, said that Kenya has leveraged capital, skills and technical prowess from Chinese firms to stimulate growth.

He singled out infrastructure, housing, manufacturing, health and agro-processing as strategic areas that Chinese enterprises have an enlarged footprint, thus powering the country’s socioeconomic renewal.

“We find China’s footprint in value addition, universal health through construction of hospitals and the building sector. Our focus is a win-win engagement,” said Maringa, noting that virtually all Chinese firms implementing mega infrastructure projects in Kenya have invested in the communities, hence strengthening bilateral ties and cross-cultural understanding.

Paul Ndung’u Kamweru, the director for Asia and Australia Directorate in Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Chinese enterprises have provided a platform to strengthen friendship, cultural exchange and inter-communal cohesion.

Through the construction of modern roads, ports and railways, Chinese firms have raised Kenya’s stature as a regional transport, manufacturing and logistics hub, he stressed.

Kamweru said that in 2020 alone, foreign direct investments outflow from China to Kenya rose to 600 million U.S. dollars, adding that the country was keen to harness capital from the Asian nation to revitalize key sectors like manufacturing, agribusiness, ICT and financial services.