Raphael Tuju, secretary-general of Kenya's ruling Jubilee Party, says Kenya is eager to replicate achievements of the Communist Party of China, including its success in poverty alleviation. LUCIE MORANGI / CHINA DAILY
The achievements of the Communist Party of China over the past four decades – especially in the fight against poverty – offer valuable lessons to Kenya, says Raphael Tuju, a high-ranking government official in the African nation.
"The CPC is behind the dramatic rise of the country to the second-largest economy in the world, while lifting millions of people out of poverty, a feat no other country has achieved in history," says Tuju.
He says these achievements are now having an impact on the Sino-Kenyan relationship, which in diplomatic terms goes back 55 years. "Kenyans are now exposed to the latest infrastructure technology, with the development of the $3.8 billion standard gauge railway. We can see tangible benefits from this engagement, and we are happy that it was elevated to a comprehensive strategic relationship, which means closer and more exchanges between the two countries."
Tuju, whose mandate is to advise the Kenyan Cabinet, says he believes engagement with China will be one of Kenya's national priorities. After assuming office for his second term last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled what he described as his "Big Four" agenda, listing four key pillars – manufacturing, universal healthcare, affordable housing and food security.
"These are the most important projects," says Tuju. "We want to strengthen food security in the country, and China has addressed this issue through immense investment in research and development. They have new rice varieties that have been proven to have high productivity and will increase output per acre," he says.
Tuju says he would also like the engagement to give room to private partnerships, especially in themodernization of agriculture.
"China and Kenya engage at government level," he says. "We would like this to trickle down to the private sector, where we believe we will see accelerated growth and transfer between citizens."
Another sector that Kenya is interested in is industrialization. "Plans are underway for the relocation of some light industries from China, and we would like them to settle here in Kenya and make us the regional hub," says Tuju.
Kenya's housing sector is currently booming, thanks to affordable building materials from a Chinese company, China Wu Yi. Tuju says the technology used by the company has not only cut the cost of building but also reduced the time taken to complete houses. "They are also offering jobs to our young people," he says
Platforms such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative have boosted engagement between the Asian giant and Africa.
On the 55 years of diplomatic relations between China and Kenya, the former foreign affairs minister says that under President Xi Jinping's administration, the relationship has grown stronger.
"When I was the foreign minister, we started engaging with China actively," says Tuju. "The dividends are now visible, and we are seeing an increase in the amount of construction."
The Chinese "have an edge, of course, in economy of scale and strong financial institutions such as Bank of China and the Export-Import Bank of China. It makes it easy to do business with them compared with other traditional partners," Tuju says.