NAIROBI Aug 19 Kenya signed deals worth $5
billion with China on Monday to construct a railway line and an
energy project, deepening ties with the Asian country keen to
expand investment in Africa.
The cash would be spent on energy projects, a standard gauge
railway linking the port of Mombasa in east Africa's biggest
economy to its border town of Malaba, meant to provide faster
access from Kenya's port to markets in the region, the
presidency's media service said in a statement on Monday.
The rest would be used to improve wildlife protection, in a
country where well armed criminal gangs have killed elephants
for tusks and rhinos for their horns that are often shipped
mainly to China for use in ornaments and medicines.
It was not specified whether the cash was a loan or grant,
or whether this was all new money or part of a previously
negotiated but unannounced package.
The deals were agreed in Beijing after talks by Kenya's new
President Uhuru Kenyatta and President Xi Jinping. Kenyatta is
on a state visit to China scheduled from Sunday to Friday.
During his first visit to Africa in March, Xi pledged to
help the continent develop, responding to concerns that China is
only interested in shipping out the continent's raw materials.
China is already key player in Kenya, constructing
capital-intensive flagship projects, mostly roads.
Kenyatta's visit follows a promise he made during the
presidential election campaigns preceding the March 4 vote.
He vowed to work closely with China following comments by
United States, Britain and some European officials who said they
would limit contacts with Kenyatta should he win owing to his
indictment for crimes against humanity at The Hague.
Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto both face trial at the
International Criminal Court for helping orchestrate the
bloodshed that followed the disputed 2007 election. They both
deny the accusations, and pledged to clear their names.
On Monday, Xi said China supports Kenya's quest for
industrialization and plans to host a clearing house for the
Chinese renminbi currency in Nairobi, as part of Kenya's plans
to become an international financial hub.
Kenyatta urged China to invest in Kenya's newly discovered
oil sector, power generation, a technology city near the capital
city and a new port in Lamu, north of Mombasa.
The $25.5 billion Lamu project would link landlocked South
Sudan and Ethiopia to the Indian Ocean port of Lamu by
constructing a major highway, a railway and an oil pipeline.
(Writing by James Macharia; editing by Ron Askew)