China is devoting a lot of resources towards infrastructure development in East Africa more than ever before. This is meant to enhance transportation, boost development, trade and commerce in the region.
Kenya, which is the leading economy in the region, is seeking Chinese funding for the projects which include development of a railway network from Lamu through Northern Kenya to Southern Sudan and Ethiopia and the first three Berths and associated infrastructure of the second port of Lamu.
Lamu port, which will be the second one in the Kenyan coast, will supplement the port of Mombasa which has served the region for many years. Tanzania has two ports which also serve the region. They are the port of Dares- Salaam and Tanga.
Other projects are building of Standard Gauge Railway from Mombasa to Malaba, Western Kenya and mass transit light railway system for the Nairobi Metropolitan.
From Uganda, Sudan will extend the Railway line from Gulu town to Southern Sudan and then construct another one from Tororo town to Juba town, the capital town of Southern Sudan.
Kenya is also seeking accelerated support from China to ensure that investments in the transport system stay at the top of the implementation priority list and projects get done in time.
As a follow-up on new development projects President Kibaki had formally requested the Chinese government to partner with Kenya in infrastructure development.
Other countries in the region which will equally benefit from the infrastructure development are Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kenya’s State House described the flagship projects as instrumental to attaining Vision 2030- the Government-driven development strategy to turn Kenya into a newly industrialized country.
President Kibaki travelled to Shangai, China, on Wednesday where he will also attend the World Expo 2010, where Kenya is showcasing itself as the central entry point for investors in the East and Central Africa region.
China is also engaged in the construction of Athi –River Namanga road connecting Kenya and Tanzania, while Tanzania is constructing a major road connecting Arusha and Namanga.
China is therefore taking the lead in other development efforts in the region in fields such as education, cultural exchange, business, and heath services, among others.
With the revival of the East African Community, the countries in the region would then have a platform in which they can discuss with other potential development partners on the development of infrastructure, particularly transport and communications, which are vital in enhancing faster progress.
One area in which China could help the region is planning of urban centres and construction of sports facilities to tap the athletics potential and other sporting events in which the East African countries excels in.
The closer cooperation with China in several fields would therefore instill to the East Africans the Chinese culture of hard work, share of technology, and other vital information regarding the Asian development experience.
Countries such as Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti are also bound to benefit since they are part of Eastern Africa. Their dream is also to join the East African Community one day and share the advantages of economies of scale brought about by the East African Common Market.
A big challenge to countries like the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Canada, and Italy is to follow the Chinese example and assist the region’s development efforts and the quest for self-reliance. A developed region will also spur development in Southern Sudan which lags behind in so many socio-economic and political issues.