China has lessons to offer Africa on food production

The Citizen (Tanzania)
Content provided by Asianet-Pakistan

Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the current drought a national disaster and appealed for international help.

The presidential appeal reminded me of a story about a traveller journeying through a foreign land who encounters a stranger along the way in dire need of assistance.

Set upon by thieves and left to die, all those who passed by turned away, unwilling to help.

The foreigner, touched by the man’s plight, and finding himself able to help, gave him first aid, transported him, and paid for his medical care, proving himself a true “friend in need”.

Kenya, set upon by the drought, finds herself in the position of the injured man on the roadside, and China the foreign passer-by.

The Chinese government has pledged to provide drought relief to Kenya to the tune of $23 million (Sh2.3bn), which is expected to feed for about one month more than one million hardest hit by drought. The amount is enough to buy more than 21 tonnes of food.

The donation is due to arrive in April and is the largest that China has given to Kenya in history. But it is supplemented by other contributions made by Chinese companies.

The private companies’ donations remain an important part of their corporate social responsibility to Kenya. Interestingly, the food donations from the people of China exceeds the $23 million declared by their government.

The response by the people of China is part of a long tradition of support to African countries. In 2011 for instance, China gave to Kenya food aid to the tune of $20 million, while the larger Horn of Africa, where more than 12.4 million people were facing starvation, also benefited.

China is one of the most generous food donors in the world, an amazing fact given that the country stopped receiving food aid from the World Food Programme in 2005.

That same year, China became the third-largest food donor in the world, offering not just aid but lessons worth learning.

One of these lessons relate to how China, the most populous country in the world, is able to feed its own population, now approaching the 1.4 billion mark, and help other countries.

It is reassuring that China is committed to working with Kenya to take such lessons to heart and revolutionise its agriculture so that it can come out self-sufficient and in a position to feed other countries in need.

Kenya has the capacity to do this, gifted as she is with fertile land and underground water.

This assistance is part of China’s revolution in Africa – a revolution that is anchored on affordability and delivery. The president of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, recently stated: “In conducting China’s relations with African countries, we adhere to the principles of sincerity and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests”.

China is not a new friend to Kenya. The two allies have interacted on development projects for a long while. It is refreshing to see that it is not all business it is an ally with a heart for the people.

As Chinese people, we believe in Kahlil Gibran’s view that “Your friend is your needs answered”.


Kenya diplomats use language to deepen relations with China

Lucie Morangi
Displayed with permission from China Daily

Kenya has stepped up efforts to deepen diplomatic relations with China by launching a Chinese language class for diplomats at the Confucius Institute of University of Nairobi. Thirty students from various departments at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will commence their courses next week for four months.

This is a strong move towards breaking cultural and language barriers that have long been cited as a challenge in China-Kenya bilateral relations.

Students will attend classes two times weekly and learn basic Chinese language to support trade and cultural relations between the two countries.

While launching the class, in line with an agreement between the Foreign Service Academy and University of Nairobi, Ambassador Ben Ogutu, Director General of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) VI Secretariat, said the classes will go a long way to increase the ministry’s pool of versatile diplomats.

Speaking on behalf of the cabinet minister of the foreign affairs ministry, Ogutu said emerging nations, particularly those in the BRICS group of nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), have shifted world power and attention, giving a new impetus to the south-south cooperation.

“It is therefore prudent for us to conform to the times and be strategically placed to enhance and expand relations with China,” he said.

Chinese Ambassdor Liu Xianfa delivers a speech at the ceremony. [Photo by Liu Hongjie/China Daily]

In his speech, Liu Xianfa, the Chinese ambassador to Kenya, noted that the China-Kenya relationship has reached historic heights over the recent past, “bringing along more and more tangible benefits to the peoples of both countries.”

Liu said that the Chinese language class, as a diplomat’s capacity building program, is a testimony to enhanced cooperation from both sides. “I am convinced, with joint efforts of both countries’ diplomats, the Chinese Dream and the Kenya Vision 2030 will bring the two countries ever closer in carrying out common development, integrate our shared interests and combine the wishes and aspirations of both peoples towards common development and prosperity.”

Also present during the ceremony were Simon Nabukwesi, Director Foreign Service Academy, Henry Mutoro, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic Affairs who represented the University of Nairobi’s Vice Chancellor, and Guo Hong, director of the Confucius Institute at the university.

China and Kenya are currently enjoying sustained bilateral relations. This has been supported by numerous high level exchanges between the two countries’top government officials, expansion of trade that has culminated to $6 billion in 2015, increased cultural exchanges with major Chinese media firms increasing presence in Kenya together with four Confucius institutes and strengthen cooperation in regional peace and security as well as international issues such as reforms of the United Nation’s Security Council.

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