Chinese premier Li Keqiang official visit to Africa concluded

May 14, 2014 17:11 IST

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang eight day official visits to four nations of African continent starting on 4 May 2014 concluded on 11 May 2014. These nations were Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya. This was the first time that Li visited Africa since taking office in 2013.

During the visit dozens of deal were signed between China and four African nations covering areas as diverse as finance, trade and culture. The visit also included the China Railway and Aviation Show and a light railway construction project.

Besides, China also agreed to work with Africa in building 3 networks: with high-speed railways, high speed roads and civil aviation.

Agreement on Building Railway Line in East Africa

The eight day visit concluded with the signing of an agreement with to build a 610-km railway line linking Kenya's capital Nairobi with the Eastern port Mombasa.

China signed the agreement with the leaders of East Africa to build a new railway line in East Africa. The railway line will link the Kenyan port of Mombasa to Nairobi and will run on to Rwanda and South Sudan.

The agreement was signed in Nairobi (Kenya) by visiting Chinese premier Li Keqiang and witnessed by the presidents of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.

Construction work on the standard gauge line will start from October 2014. The 610 km (380-mile) stretch from the coast to Nairobi is due to be completed by 2018.

The new standard gauge line will supplement a slower narrow gauge network that now only runs to Uganda whereas the new line is designed to go on to Rwanda and South Sudan.

China Road and Bridge Corporation, a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company was appointed to construct the railway line.

The total estimated cost of production is 3.8 billion US Dollar. According to the terms of the agreement, The Eximbank of China will finance 90 percent of the cost of the first stage while the remaining 10 percent will be financed by Kenya.

The new railway will cut freight costs to 8 U.S. cents a metric ton (1.1023 tons) per km from 20 cents now.

Construction of the original line began in Mombasa 1895 and the railway reached Nairobi in 1899. It reached the shore of Lake Victoria in December 1901.

Analysis


The Li visit to Africa was made to further cement the comprehensive cooperation partnership and take bilateral ties between China and African countries to a new high. Trade and development were on top of the agenda as Li sought to establish his vision of a new type of strategic partnership with African nations.

The timing of the visit is significant. 50 years ago former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai made a landmark trip to Africa. The visit proved to be a major milestone in building a long and fruitful relationship.

As of now the trade between African and China is worth over 210 billion US dollars. This is over 2000 times what it was in 1960. And, for 5 years now, China has been Africa’s largest trading partner. Moreover, Beijing has also supported over 270 infrastructure programs across the continent.

Infrastructure, like the Tanzara Railway connecting Tanzania and Zambia, the project is a major symbol of China’s commitment to the region.

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