Kenya, China Sign 10 Bilateral Deals

Projects including developing solar energy and building a hydropower station.

As China increases its footprint in the resource-poor but market-rich and strategically located east African country, it has signed 10 bilateral agreements with Kenya.

Projects to develop solar energy, provide anti-malaria equipment, build a hydropower station and other agreements on media and education were inked.

Among the deals signed was a $95 million framework agreement for a 500-bed hospital that will be country's first fully-fledged university hospital, the statement said.

"Today Kenya is the largest beneficiary of Chinese aid and concessional loans. We intend to deepen the relations further," senior Chinese Communist Party official Li Changchun said at the ceremony.

Kenyan-Chinese trade stood at around $1.3 billion in 2009 with Kenyan exports to China almost negligible.

With few natural resources to attract China's voracious energy industry, Kenya is nevertheless considered an important access market and a regional cornerstone. The east African country has acquired new strategic significance for China through its proximity to the future state of Southern Sudan.

China imports 60% of Southern Sudan's oil and the inauguration of a new state, slated for July, could lead to the creation of a new pipeline which does not go through the north but instead cross Kenya to reach the sea.

According to official Chinese figures, China currently has 22 construction companies undertaking 52 separate projects in Kenya.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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