Kenya eyes infrastructure fund from China’s Sh15 trillion Silk Road initiative

President Uhuru Kenyatta is in Beijing for the China One Belt One Road Forum. (Photo: Moses Omusula, Standard)

Beijing: Kenya expects to get significant funding from China for major infrastructure projects which are part of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative.

The hopes of Kenya and other nations were raised when Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that his country will cobble together a massive budget of Sh15 trillion for the world’s most ambitious infrastructure project.

At the opening ceremony attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta and 28 other Heads of State and Government, President Xi said besides the Sh15 trillion, China had also set aside Sh100 billion  for a South-South Cooperation fund and another Sh100 billion for cooperation projects in countries on the new silk road.

By the time the project is complete, it is expected that China would have spent at least $4 trillion dollars to revive the ancient Silk Road that linked Asia, Europe and Asia.

Kenya is part of the Silk Road and expects to reap more benefits from its close ties with China. Already, with Chinese funding, Kenya has seen rapid progress in infrastructure development.

The Standard Gauge Railway, Kenya’s largest single infrastructure project, was made possible by funding from China.

The SGR has already reached Nairobi and funding for the second source has already been secured from China.

During his visit, President Kenyatta is expected to ask for funding for the third phase of the SGR from Naivasha to Malaba through Kisumu.

In his opening speech, President Xi said China’s mission is to promote shared prosperity and assured that China will never use its economic might to interfere with the sovereignty of other nations.

He said China is in the business of sharing its prosperity with the rest of the world and is not interest in geopolitical games.

President Kenyatta will discuss details of Kenya’s projects with President Xi and Premier Li Keying when he holds bilateral meetings with them on Monday.

The President also witnessed the signing of a private sector agreement worth Sh200 billion for the construction of 1767 acre industrial park near Eldoret town. The project titled Africa Economic Zones is being put up through a partnership between Chinese firm Goudagong and a Kenyan company.

Earlier in the day President Kenyatta also held talks with the President of the World Economic Forum, Prof Klaus Schwab.