Kenya, China to deepen cooperation on ‘Belt and Road’ initiative

China’s Belt and Road Initiative took center stage as Kenyan President William Ruto and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi held a high-level meeting over the weekend at State House in Nairobi.

During the meeting on Saturday, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, a large-scale development project led by China to improve global connectivity and trade by building infrastructure like roads, railways and ports across Asia, Europe and Africa.

Ruto emphasized Kenya’s specific interest in prioritizing road development, especially within the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) framework.

“Investment in this sector will spur economic growth and create jobs for the people under our Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda,” he said.

Ruto said Kenya aims to work with China to upgrade roads in the country, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), and the ports of Mombasa and Lamu.

“China will consider the Kenyan government’s priority areas of interest,” Wang told Ruto after the discussions.

The Belt and Road Initiative offers the potential for African countries to access new markets, attract foreign investments and foster development opportunities.

However, the initiative has also raised concerns about debt sustainability and ensuring that projects benefit African communities in a sustainable and equitable manner.

The two men also engaged in discussions encompassing infrastructure development, climate change, information and communications technology (ICT), education, security and various other areas of shared concern, fostering closer ties between the two nations.

Wang is expected to visit several African nations including Nigeria and South Africa ahead of next month’s BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

South Africa is the current chair of BRICS – a group comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa which aims to challenge US dominance in Africa.

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