Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga departs for China

Ex-Prime Minister Raila Odinga seen boarding plane (PHOTO: Courtesy)
NAIROBI, KENYA: Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has departed for China to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

In his official Facebook page, Raila said he would make the case for synergies in infrastructure planning and development by embracing international standards, fostering a favorable environment and predictability for private sector investment in infrastructure.

Raila will be joining other World leaders including President Uhuru Kenyatta meeting in Beijing this week for a summit that will agree to project financing that respects global debt goals and promotes green growth.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga (PHOTO: Courtesy)
State House confirmed that President Uhuru Kenyatta would also leave for China today to negotiate a Sh368 loan billion for extension of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

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The Government plans to complete the second phase of the project from Nairobi to Naivasha by August.

The 120-kilometre stretch is 80 per cent complete and the estimated cost is Sh170 billion.

The phase from Naivasha to Kisumu will cost another Sh360 billion. Another Sh170 billion will be needed to connect the railway line to Malaba from Kisumu.

An SGR train loaded with containerised cargo leaves the Port of Mombasa (PHOTO: Standard)

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The Chinese government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, said on Friday that the Belt and Road project is not a “geopolitical tool” or a debt crisis for participating nations, but Beijing welcomes constructive suggestions on how to address concerns over the initiative.

A total of 37 foreign leaders are due to attend the April 25-27 summit, though the United States is only sending lower-level representatives, reflecting its unease over the scheme.

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The number of foreign leaders at the April 25-27 summit is up from 29 last time, mainly from China’s closest allies like Pakistan and Russia but also Italy, Switzerland and Austria.

China has repeatedly said Belt and Road is for the benefit of the whole world, and that it is committed to upholding globally accepted norms in ensuring projects are transparent and win-win for all parties.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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Raila OdingaStandard Gauge RailwayUhuru Kenyatta