The increase in china’s economic and political involvement in Africa is arguably the most momentous development on the continent today. Just as China’s importance is growing in Africa so is it in its relations to Kenya. Both Kenya and China are third world countries and their relationship is refered to as south-south relations in global governance. South-south relation is a term used by historical policy makers to describe the exchange of resources, technology and knowledge between developing countries.
China-Kenya relationship has a positive history dating back to 1963 when Kenya gained independence and china established diplomatic relations with Kenya. In the initial days of the establishment, the relationship between the two countries experienced fair development till 1965 when it was lowered to be at the charge d’affaires level and gradually returned to normal at the beginning of 1970s. In more recent years the two countries have engaged in mutual exchange of military knowledge and technology.
Important military commanders from both countries have made visits to the other country and in 2005 the then Kenyan president visited Beijing. However despite of military and political interactions trade overshadows all the rest. ECONOMIC RELATIONS Economic ties between Kenya and China date back to independence. As a British colonial state, and despite the Cold War, Kenya was exporting raw materials to be processed in China in the 1950s and early 1960s: sisal fiber, raw cotton, wattle bark extract, and pyrethrum.
In return, Kenya bought semi-processed and finished products from China: base metals, tea, fabrics, fruit preparations, and sundry manufactured goods. In 1963, Kenya’s last year under colonial rule, the volume of trade between the two countries amounted to 9. 2 million Kenya shillings, and it was largely in Kenya’s favor: Kenya’s exports were valued at thrice what the country bought from China. In the following year, however, the value of Chinese exports to Kenya rose, and they were more diversified than they were previously.
In 1978, when President Daniel Arap Moi came in power, the relation of the two countries gained a fast development. With frequent mutual visits at high level the friendly cooperation witnessed outstanding achievements in many fields. China-Kenya economic relations in the Kibaki era also began with high-level political contacts between the two states followed by a series of agreements. But this time unlike in the past, independent operators from Kenya and China were part of the act.
President Mwai Kibaki made a state visit to China in August 2005, with eleven Kenyan trade- and investment-seeking delegations in tow. He held extensive talks with President Hu Jintao and Chinese government officials, resulting in a five-part agreement covering official development assistance in grants for infrastructure and energy, extended air services between the two countries, technical assistance for assessment and classification of standards in industrial products, and modernization of equipment and training at the state-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.
President Kibaki’s delegation also paid the obligatory visit to Shanghai, where he held discussions with its mayor Han Zheng, on the functioning of special export industrial zones. Kenyan business delegations explored prospects in tourism, joint ventures in power generation, and machinery. The Third Economic and Trade Committee meeting between Kenya and China took place on 25th April 2006. The meeting addressed various issues of interest to both countries, including ways of bridging the balance of trade, which remains heavily in favour of China (A scoping study on China-Africa Economic relations: The case of Kenya.
) To actively implement bilateral signed agreements, the government of the People’s Republic of China has set up a special fund to encourage Chinese companies to import some Kenyan products, including coffee beans, rose seeds, black tea and sisal all of which are exported in raw form. China also encourages its businesses to import Kenyan goods, expand investment in Kenya, participate in its infrastructure construction and energy & resources exploitation and expand cooperation with Kenya in processing industries and agriculture.
Kenya’s relation with china presents an opportunity for skills transfer and the possibility of upgrading local enterprise. The extent of this possibility has been created by the leveraging of local enterprise in Kariobangi cottage industries on manufacturing of similar products. Also the availability of cheap Chinese products has been embraced by many consumers who find them affordable despite their poor quality. In a sense, this has been a source of relief from economic and political pressure.
However this trade has negative impacts on Kenya also: the export of scrap metal to china represents loss to the Kenyan manufacturing industry as they are denied the capacity to develop similar capabilities. The demand for scrap metal in china has also at times influenced vandalism in Kenya’s local infrastructure; power cables and railway lines have suffered the greatest impact. The presence of substandard and counterfeit goods from china in the Kenyan market has adverse effects on the lives of unsuspecting consumers.
This also reduces the possibility of entry of genuine products from the Kenya making competition unfair as the products from china are cheaper than the genuine products. EXCHANGES AND COOPERATION IN CULTURE China and Kenya signed the agreement for cultural cooperation in September 1980. The two countries agreed to have exchange and cooperation in the fields of culture and art through exchange visits by artists and writers, exchange performing tours by troupes of artists and holding exhibition on culture and art in each other’s countries.
Kenya and china agreed to strengthen contacts and cooperation between sports organizations. Both countries shall send according to needs and possibilities, athletes, coaches and sports teams to each other’s countries for friendly visits and competitions and for exchange of techniques (article five of the cultural agreement between the government of the Republic of Kenya and The People’s republic of china) china has also helped Kenya build Moi sports center and maintain it and also build Marsh gas pools.
Chinese tourism abroad is restricted and countries have to be granted an “approved destination status” Kenya is among some of the countries in Africa that are granted this status hence there are direct flight connections between Kenya and china leading to improved investment in the tourism industry. The Kenya Airways has been granted landing rights in several cities in China and is now operating direct flights to Hong Kong China and Guangzhou in southern China from Nairobi. Furthermore, since Kenya was granted Preferred Tourist Destination in 2004, arrivals from China have more than doubled and are expected to grow even more.
These initiatives are likely to boost the Kenyan economy by enhancing not just the earnings of the Airlines but also earnings for the tourism sector which has become a leading foreign exchange earner for Kenya. Moreover, these operations are likely to facilitate the movement of Chinese business persons to Kenya, leading to increased foreign direct investment in Kenya from China EDUCATION AND TECHNOLOGY In the field of education, there could be exchange of visits and study and lecture tours by teachers’ scholars and specialists.
The two countries could grant scholarships to each other’s students depending on needs and possibilities and encourage self-paid students to study in each other’s country. They would facilitate the establishment of direct contact and cooperation between institutions of higher learning and encourage exchange of books and other learning materials between learning institutions. They agreed to facilitate the attendance by scholars and specialists of each other’s country at international academic meetings held in the other country. They also agreed to translate and publish outstanding works of literature and art of each other.
According to this agreement china provides Egerton University with apparatus for teaching and research with two teachers sent to work there and from 1982 china could provide ten scholarships per year to Kenyan students. Kenyan universities are developing a program to offer Chinese language in their curriculum and technical scientific cooperation. MILLITARY RELATIONS In recent years, the military exchanges between China and Kenya are increasing. In December 1996, General Liu Jingsong, Commander of Lanzhou Military Zone headed the first Chinese military delegation to visit Kenya.
In October 2000, General Li Jinai, Political commissar of the general equipment department headed a friendly delegation to visit Kenya and in December 2001, General Fu Quanyou, Chief of the General Staff headed a delegation to visit Kenya. The Kenyan military visits to China include: Major General Nick Leshan, commander of the Kenyan air force 1997, General Doudi Tonje, Chief of the General Staff 1997, Lieutenant General Daniel Opande, President of Institute for National Defence 1997, General Joseph Kibwana, Chief of the General Staff 2002.
In March 1998, Kenya sent its military attache to its embassy in China. In July 2000 the Chinese government gave six air craft to the Kenya air force and the Chinese ambassador to Kenya An Yongyu in the handing over ceremony said that the aircrafts were a symbol of growth and enhancement ok china-Kenyan state to state and military to military relations. China also provided the Kenyan forces with weapons for the Somali mission and it also has an involvement with the Kenyan National Security and Intelligence Service providing It with telecommunication and computer equipment.
AID Foreign aid is abroad term describing the help one country gives another through some form of donation. The donors and recipients may be government or non-governmental bodies. Donations may go directly from the donor to the recipient, or they pass through other bodies. Chinese aid to Kenya is based on development assistance. Kenya started benefiting from Chinese development aid in its early years of independence. In 1964, China provided Kenya with military support to counter a Somalia invasion.
Kenya is one of the beneficiaries of Chinese aid and China’s assistance to Kenya is exclusively project based. Since the establishment of the diplomatic relations, the projects of aid and assistance provided by China to Kenya have been diverse. Projects are mostly part of bigger package deals which include other types of cooperation with Kenya. China currently gives both monetary and non-monetary aid to Kenya. Development aid from China supports investment in infrastructure, equipment and plant; academic training; technical training; human relief; and tariff exemptions.
Over the past years China has given Kenya grants and loans for infrastructure, plant and equipment. These were mainly in road construction projects, modernization of power distribution, rural electrification, water, renovation of international sports centre, medical and drugs for fighting malaria, and construction of a malaria research centre. China has for a long time awarded scholarships to Kenyan students wishing to undertake their studies in China in diverse fields twenty of which are in medical related fields.
Kenya was the first African country to receive Chinese financing of educational and cultural exchange programmes though the Confucius Chinese and Language Centre, currently hosted by the University of Nairobi in Kenya and Tia Jin Normal University in China China has extended to Kenya, loans and grants for a number of projects including; the Moi International Sports Complex project in Kasarani, supply of medical equipment and drugs, the upgrading of the Moi Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Concessional Loans for construction of various roads, including Kipsigak – Serem – Shamakhoho road, Kima-Emusustwi Road and the Gambogi-Serem road and a Maize Flour Processing Project in Bomet town and the Thika super highway that was completed in 2012.
The types of aid given to Kenya by China have obvious benefits in terms of infrastructural development and market development. The recipient sectors are set to gain, given the quality of China’s development. However, if the underlying goal of China’s aid is the drive to access raw materials and markets in Kenya, it will hurt Kenya’s economy in the long run by undermining the ability of the local firms to exploit the same markets and resources. China’s rapid expansion of Aid to Kenya, the lack of aid conditionalities, may lead to overshadowing of the aid from many traditional Western donors.
There is a possibility that Chinese aid to Kenya could create productive capacity which competes with regional countries producers and lowers export prices. CONCLUSION The relationship between Kenya and china is majorly economic based and if Kenya uses this opportunity well it is bound to have a large market in china which will lead to its development. However, china seems to be gaining more than Kenya does from thus bilateral relationship at the moment. Kenya can also benefit a lot from the aids received from china if the funds are well managed. The Kenya-china relationship is aimed at helping both countries grow economically, politically and socially. REFERENCES 1. Africa in World Politics.
Kenya comparing its relationship with China, India and United States. 2. The Growing Relationship between China and Sub-Saharan Africa; Microeconomic, Trade, Investment and Aid links. Zafar Ali, World Bank Research observer, vol 2, 2007. 3. United Nations Development Program, Kenya development cooperation report 2005. 4. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya 2006. A brief prepared for Institute of Development Studies, University of Nairobi. 5. A Scoping Study on China-Africa Economic Relations: The Case of Kenya. By Joseph Onjala, Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi. 6. Policy Brief. The impact of China-Africa Trade Relations: The Case of Kenya.