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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Chinese firms pledge to invest in Kenya to boost country’s exports

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Chinese firms on Friday pledged to invest in Kenya in order to boost the east African country’s exports.

Lyu Xinhua, chairman of Council for Promoting South-South Cooperation told journalists in Nairobi that Chinese firms are keen to form partnership with Kenyan firms to manufacture products that can compete in the global markets.

“Chinese firms are willing to help Kenya to reduce its international trade imbalance by boosting its export,” Lyu said during the Kenya-China Trade and Investment Forum.

During the event, a group of over 30 Chinese firms had an opportunity to network with their Kenyan peers.

The Chinese trade delegation is on a ten-day mission to visit Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in a bid to discover investment and cooperation opportunities in Africa.

Chris Kiptoo, principal secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, said that Kenya and China have emerged as solid trading partners in the past decades.

He revealed that in order to meet the resources requirements, the government is seeking additional capacity to generate resources by leveraging exports for foreign exchange generation as well as foreign direct investments to boost production.

The Kenyan official said that the government is therefore committed to create an enabling trade and investment relationship that will enable realization of key national objectives in order to raise the levels of economic growth.

According to Kiptoo, the ministry of industry recently launched the Integrated National Export Development and Promotion Strategy that seeks to expand Kenya’s exports globally at a rate of 15 percent annually.

He said that the export strategy targets growth-oriented sectors such as livestock, manufacturing, fisheries, agriculture and handicrafts.

He noted that it is the intention of the government to develop these growth-oriented sectors and is therefore keen on attracting new investments in the related value chains and also create linkages to the global market.

Kiptoo said that Kenya welcomes Chinese firms to invest in the country and there are currently more than 400 Chinese firms in Kenya serving in various sectors of the economy such as real estate, finance and agriculture.

“These companies can further join into ventures with our local industries in order to maximize production within Kenya for export, a move that will both increase Kenya’s exports to China and also increase foreign exchange,” said Kiptoo.

Anne Muchoki, chairperson of Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) said that Kenya and China have enjoyed excellent diplomatic and economic relationship since Kenya’s independence.

According to Muchoki, Kenya’s trade with China is an opportunity to transform both economies. She said that after the inaugural China International Import Expo held earlier this month, China has opened her doors to Kenyan products.

Muchoki said that Kenya has an opportunity to increase its exports now that Kenya and China have signed a working group framework on trade development and a sanitary and phytosanitary agreement to allow Kenyan goods to access the Chinese market.

Li Xuhang, charge d’affaires of Chinese Embassy in Kenya said that as Nairobi is a good partner, Beijing will continue its efforts to further strengthen the Sino-Kenyan partnership, ensuring that the bilateral cooperation will usher in a new era of vigorous development and continue to be an example for China-Africa cooperation.

Li said that China will step up efforts of policy coordination with Kenya, speed up the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative with the Kenya’s national development blue print Vision 2030 and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s development blueprint dubbed the Big Four Agenda, in order to benefit Kenyan business people.

The diplomat added that in order to further advance the economic and trade cooperation between China and Kenya, the Kenyan government and business community should introduce more incentives and policies and take concrete measures to create a safer, more convenient environment so as to attract more Chinese investment.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Kenyan, Chinese firms cash in on growing business prospects

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan and Chinese companies have stepped up efforts to reap from growing bilateral ties between the two nations that are increasingly continuing to host each other’s citizens.

Banks, hotels, colleges, realtors, tour firms, agricultural and farm machinery companies, among others, are all in the race to cash in on growing business. 

“Good news to our clients, it is with great pleasure to let you know that our company is offering a discount of 100,000 shillings (980 U.S. dollars) on any order placed,” said Chinese Huangpai Grain Processing Equipment Assemblers in a newspaper advert on Friday.

Such adverts have now become common in Kenyan dailies as dozens of Chinese companies make inroads in the east African nation. 

Similarly, local companies have aggressively moved to tap into the Chinese market, targeting both citizens in China and those in Kenya. 

Topping the list of firms seeking to reap from the Chinese-Kenya bilateral relations are commercial banks.

The financial institutions are continuing to launch products that target both the Chinese and Kenyans. 

These products include business trips to China for small and medium-sized companies, yuan accounts, interbank cash transfer services between the banks in China and themselves and forex exchange services. 

The products make it possible for the Chinese and Kenyans to easily carry out financial transactions. 

Equity Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank, Stanbic Bank, National Bank and Standard Chartered Bank are some of the financial institutions that have yuan centres that facilitate business for Chinese firms operating in Kenya and Kenyan firms trading in the Asian nation.

Last month, the Cooperative Bank, organized a first trip for its business customers to China’s southern city Guanghou. Beijing is another popular destination for Kenyan businesses.

The rise in uptake of the services is spurring the launch of others, the latest being mobile money transfer services between the two countries.

The product involves Kenya’s leading money transfer service Mpesa and WeChat, China’s premier social media and payment app. Family Bank in Kenya together with global fintech firm SimbaPay are offering the service. 

Mobile money subscribers will use a given pay bill number that belongs to the bank to send money that would be delivered in the WeChat wallet in China. On the other hand, money send from China would be delivered to the bank. 

Godfrey Kamau, Family Bank’s chief operations officer, said the service is a milestone for Kenyans who have their kin or do business in China. 

“This service would boost SMEs as it is a solution that offers instant, reliable, traceable and affordable channel to send money to suppliers in China,” he said, adding that Kenyans in China would also be able to send money using the same platform back home. 

Moses Etyang, who stayed in China for close to two years studying, noted that the mobile money service would ease the sending and receiving money between Kenya and China, especially for students. 

“When I was in China two years ago, I relied on banks to receive cash from my parents and the process was tedious because of the bureaucracies involved. That now one can receive money in their phones as it happens in Kenya is amazing,” he said on Saturday. 

Kenyan Bankers Association chief executive noted that Kenyan banks are scanning for opportunities as ties between Kenya and China grow. 

“There is opportunity to trade with the yuan that is increasingly becoming relevant in the country. There is a lot of trade now and the Chinese currency is becoming the medium of transacting between various entities,” he said recently.

Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, noted that with trade relations between China and Kenya growing, businesses in the two countries have no choice but to work hard to reap from the ties.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics data show that the value of imports from China last year stood at 3.8 billion dollars, up from 3.2 billion dollars in 2016.

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Chinese firm helps young learners in rural Kenya through scholarships

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Shirleen Leyian grew up in Kenya’s semi-arid Kajiado County where nomadic lifestyle that has been practiced by her community for centuries placed enormous hurdles on children and youth yearning for education.

The 22-year-old information technology (IT) student at a private university in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, was among 35 young learners from the nomadic Maasai community who were on November 30 awarded scholarships by Chinese tiles manufacturing firm, Twyford Ceramics Ltd, to enable them to complete their studies.

Leyian was in buoyant mood as she joined her peers at the podium to receive cheques from Twyford ceramics Ltd executives to cater for tuition fees and other incidentals during the forthcoming semester.

“We are grateful to Twyford Ceramics Ltd for helping us realize our dreams. The company has catered for a huge portion of tuition fees for two consecutive years since I joined the university. It feels good,” said Leyian.

She defied entrenched negative stereotypes to pursue post-secondary education at a private university and is determined to sharpen her skills in information technology as a means to secure gainful employment in the near future.

“I look forward to become an accomplished IT professional and promise to give back to the community I come from by mentoring young girls. These girls will be happy to have a role model who has broken the glass ceiling in a profession that has traditionally been reserved for the male gender,” said Leyian.

Twyford ceramics Ltd, through its local subsidiary KEDA (Kenya) Ceramics Co Ltd, in 2017 launched the Maisha Bora (Healthy Life) scholarship to help cater for tuition fees for under-privileged young learners from villages adjacent to the company’s manufacturing plant, which is located about 60 kilometers south east of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Johnstone Mpuki, community liaison at KEDA Ceramics Ltd, said that the scholarship program has transformed the lives of young learners from a community that place little premium on education due to outdated beliefs, poverty and ignorance.

“Our target has been children from poor families whose dream for quality education has often been shattered due to abject poverty and sometimes harmful cultural practices like early marriages,” said Mpuki.

“The financial assistance has inspired these children to study with zeal in the hope that they will become successful individuals later in life,” he added.

In the last two years, KEDA ceramics Ltd has awarded 100 U.S dollars to each scholarship beneficiary enrolled in high school while the ones in mid-level colleges and universities have been receiving 200 U.S dollars and 300 U.S dollars respectively.

Stanley Sipoi, an 18 years old high school graduate who aspires to pursue law in the university, said the financial support from the largest tiles manufacturing company in east and central Africa has been a game changer.

“My parents struggled hard to educate me and my siblings until Twyford ceramics Ltd came on board to ease that burden. I will be forever grateful for the company for supporting my high school education for two years and I promise to deliver positive results,” Sipoi told Xinhua.

He vowed to utilize his success in school to mentor young boys in his native village who are often denied education by parents stuck up in a time warp.

KEDA Ceramics Ltd, like other Chinese enterprises based in Kenya, has been at the forefront of transforming livelihoods of communities at its backyard through provision of clean water, tarmacking of roads and award of scholarships to bright but needy young learners.

Li Ruiqin, managing director of KEDA Ceramics Co Ltd, said that the aim of the two years old scholarship program is to help financially constrained children and youth from Kajiado County realize their dreams through formal education.

Elected leaders from Kajiado County who attended the award ceremony for scholarships to help cater for tuition fees for students from poor families hailed the gesture saying it will help alleviate high illiteracy levels in the community.

“We are ready to partner with both local and foreign investors to ensure no child is denied education because of poverty,” said Francis Kaesha, minority leader in the county government of Kajiado.

Silantoi Teto, a 16 years old form three student in a local high school whose parents are herders, said the financial support from KEDA Ceramics Ltd has motivated her to put more effort in her school work and hopefully join university where she aspires to pursue civil engineering.

“Having a philanthropic organization cater for a significant portion of my school fees in the last two years has been refreshing and I’m determined to pass my final exams and join the university to study civil engineering,” said Silantoi.

The bubbly youngster said her ultimate goal is to utilize skills learnt in school to mentor girls from remote outposts who often lack a role model in the world of academia, careers and business whom they can emulate.

             

 

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