Kenya hopes more Chinese investors will come to the east African country to boost its industrial capacity, officials said on Wednesday.
Peter Munya, cabinet secretary in the ministry of trade, industry and cooperatives, told a trade forum in Nairobi that so far approximately 400 Chinese businesses are operating in the country with positive results for Kenya's economy.
"We are actively pursuing Chinese investors who can benefit from the opportunities presented in the special economic zones and export processing zones to help Kenya expand its industrial base," Munya said during the opening ceremony of the China-Kenya Industrial Capacity Cooperation Expo.
The four-day event has attracted 81 mega-enterprises from China to showcase the latest technologies in infrastructure, energy, machinery and equipment, agricultural processing as well as in transportation and logistics.
Munya said that Kenya's manufacturing sector has averaged less than 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the past five years due to high production costs as well as competition from imported goods.
He said that manufacturing has been identified as one of the four pillars of President Uhuru Kenyatta's Big Four Agenda due to its huge impact on job creation and foreign exchange earnings potential.
The country lacks the necessary capital to set up large-scale manufacturing plants that can produce globally competitive goods, he said.
"We are therefore keen to partner with foreign investors including the Chinese to help Kenya accelerate its industrialization process," he said.
He noted that a number of Chinese investors have expressed interest in investing in the agro-processing, cement, steel, leather and textile sectors.
Munya said studies have indicated that countries which attract foreign direct investment achieve faster economic growth as compared to those with closed economies.
Guo Ce, economic and commercial counsellor at the embassy of China in Kenya, said that the China-Kenya Industrial Capacity Expo is set to provide a unique platform for both government and private sectors from the two countries to cooperate in the area of manufacturing.
Guo said that Chinese enterprises have come to participate in the expo where seminars and exchange activities will be undertaken for enterprises to showcase their accomplishments and exchange experiences.
The Chinese diplomat urged Kenyan enterprises to use the expo to generate business deals with Chinese enterprises.
He noted that as the Chinese market is opening wider and wider, more and more Kenya products will be exported to China with the support of upgraded manufacturing and agri-processing capacity.
"With our cooperation deepening, and Kenya attracting more Chinese investment, I also hope that Kenya will have its business environment improved, aiming to build itself not only as the perfect destination for tourists, but also as the friendly and attractive destination for foreign investment," he said.
Organizer of the expo, China International Exhibition Center (CIEC), said that in December 2017, with the support from the governments and business organizations of both China and Kenya, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) held the first expo in Nairobi.
Wang Xiaoguang, head of exhibition delegation and vice president of CIEC, said that the expo has become a new platform for Sino-African economic and trade cooperation in the new era.
Wang said that in the future, CCPIT will make full use of the expo to deepen mutual benefit and cooperation as well as enhance the friendship between China and Kenya.