Chinese premier Li Keqiang wrapped up his visit to Kenya on Sunday, saying the three-day trip yielded “fruitful” results.
At a meeting with Kenyan deputy president William Ruto, Li said he had reached broad consensus with Kenyan leaders and witnessed the signing of a series of cooperative documents.
China and Kenya are both at a crucial stage of development and revival of their economies, so the cooperation between the two countries has great potential, he said.
For his part, Ruto said Li’s visit has greatly upgraded Kenya-China and Africa-China cooperation and will bring about more benefits to Kenyans as well as African people.
Earlier in the day, China and Kenya signed a co-financing deal to build a major railway linking Nairobi to Mombasa, a critical infrastructure project to boost regional trade and deepen integration in East Africa. Li, together with presidents of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan as well as representatives from Tanzania, Burundi and the African Development Bank, witnessed the signing of the agreement.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Li said the presence of the African leaders and their representatives demonstrated African countries’ common desire to develop the railway network in East Africa.
A country has to improve transportation infrastructure before its economy takes off, Li said, adding that China is ready to share its technology and experience in railway construction with all parties and cooperate with them in project design, construction, equipment, management, personnel training and financing.
China is willing to join hands with Africa to build the continent’s networks of high-speed railways, expressways and regional aviation, and the Mombasa-Nairobi railway is an important part of those networks, he said.
The East African leaders said at the ceremony that the Mombasa-Nairobi railway will increase transport capacity of East African countries, accelerate interconnection and regional integration of East Africa and boost East African countries’ economic development.
Addressing reporters after the ceremony, Li said the building of the railway is a good start, and China is ready to work with Kenya to turn the railway into a model project.
Noting that China has abundant experience and excess capacity in infrastructure construction, Li assured African countries that the Chinese equipments will be up to their demand and have guaranteed quality.
He also said that the Chinese companies participating in the project will be asked to take on local people and provide them with training.
“Chinese companies have to abide by local rules and respect local customs during their operations here, and they have to fulfill their due social responsibilities,” Li said, adding that China-Africa cooperation is not merely about projects , but also means people-to-people interaction.
Speaking to the press, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni both agreed that the Mombasa-Nairobi railway has significant and far-reaching impact in boosting interconnection and regional integration in East Africa.
The project shows both China’s commitment to African development and the great strength of China-Africa solidarity and cooperation, they said.
In a joint statement issued Sunday, China and Kenya vowed to deepen mutual trust and enhance practical cooperation.
China will give firm support to Kenya in its efforts to safeguard constitutional order, security, integrity and development, according to the statement. China will continue to encourage its financial institutions and enterprises to invest in Kenya and facilitate greater access for Kenyan products into the Chinese market, the statement said.
The two sides expressed their readiness to expand people-to-people exchanges, enhance cooperation in international affairs and coordinate positions within the United Nations and other multilateral fora to jointly uphold the rights and interests of developing countries.
Kenya was the last stop of Li’s four-nation Africa tour, which had already taken him to Ethiopia, Nigeria and Angola.
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