World Insights: The Impact of the Belt and Road Initiative on Kenya’s Economic and Social Advancement
According to an African expert, the successful implementation of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has greatly improved the lives of Kenyans and other African countries. This initiative has attracted numerous Chinese investors and provided scholarships for Kenyan students to study in China. The BRI has also facilitated the adoption of Chinese technology in Kenya and other African nations.
One aspect of the BRI’s impact is in infrastructure development. Chinese companies have constructed ports, railway lines, and airports in Kenya, boosting business opportunities and meeting the growing demands of various industries. For example, the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has become a convenient and affordable means of transportation for tourists traveling between Nairobi and Mombasa. The SGR has also facilitated cargo transport from the Port of Mombasa to inland regions and neighboring countries.
The BRI’s contribution to infrastructure development has created connections and fostered trade, cultural exchange, and overall development not only in Kenya but also in the Horn of Africa region. The construction of the Nairobi Expressway, a four-lane highway in the heart of Nairobi, has significantly reduced traffic congestion. Additionally, projects like the Kenya Power Transmission Expansion Project have widened access to reliable electricity for underserved areas.
The China-Africa Liaison Centre’s founder and director, Karani Muthamia, emphasized that the BRI has provided numerous benefits by introducing modern technology, cost-effective developmental approaches, and shorter project completion periods. This partnership has resulted in the exchange of knowledge and skills between Chinese and local experts.
The BRI has also played a pivotal role in advancing Kenya’s digital economy. It has improved internet connectivity, modernized telecommunications systems for businesses, and facilitated electronic governance platforms. Cooperation with Huawei has led to the development and launch of an innovative mobile money transfer system by Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile telecommunications operator. Chinese firms have also supported the development of Kenya’s technology city, Konza Technopolis, through the installation of high-speed internet infrastructure and the provision of quality smart devices.
In the agricultural sector, China has actively supported African countries, including Kenya, to enhance productivity and combat food insecurity. With a significant portion of Kenya’s labor force employed in agriculture, China has initiated knowledge and technology exchanges between agricultural institutions in both countries. Chinese institutions have also collaborated with Kenyan research centers to develop high-yielding seed varieties and control diseases. Additionally, many Kenyan students have traveled to China to study agriculture.
China’s agricultural technology, such as the all-film double-furrow sowing technique, has been successfully applied in Kenya to mitigate the impact of drought on food production. The Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre, hosted by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, has facilitated the exchange of expertise in biodiversity conservation, precision agriculture, and climate mitigation. The joint efforts of Chinese and Kenyan researchers have resulted in an increase in the productivity of a local maize variety farmed in dry areas.
Overall, the BRI has brought significant development to Kenya and other African countries in terms of infrastructure, digital economy, and agriculture. Without the BRI, these achievements would have taken much longer to realize.