Translator: Joseph Webster
Published on: 10/27/2014
Source: Xinhua News Agency
Original text (in Chinese): http://news.xinhuanet.com/2014-10/28/c_1113001848.htm
China Road and Bridge Corporation is constructing a road in Kajiado County, Kenya. According to the article, 4,000 Kenyans have already been hired, and over 30,000 “local employees” will be employed in the project. It is unclear if there is a distinction between Kenyans and local employees. The article is reflective of the many stakeholders that Chinese investment in Africa must satisfy. Chinese investment must appear to benefit Africans – which it often does, of course – but it must also placate domestic audiences who may be concerned that State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) are funneling capital abroad and reducing employment at home. The Xinhua article stresses the benefits to the local population. On the other hand, the article also notes that “except for the local government providing soil sources, building materials, equipment, and labor were provided by the Chinese side.” Domestic political constraints on foreign investment are hardly unique to China, of course. Free trade is not necessarily zero-sum, but both winners and losers emerge from it. Chinese investment in Africa must placate both African stakeholders as well as the Chinese domestic audience.
— Joseph Webster (Translator)
“Before, this road was rotten with potholes and driving was very difficult. Now the pavement is smooth, saving time and fuel. I am grateful to the road repair men,” a Kenyan truck driver named Brown said. Brown is stationed in southeastern Kenya, in the Mashuru district of Kajiado County. China Road and Bridge Corporation is responsible for the renovation of this rural road. For Brown and residents along the road, this is their “livelihood road”, but bad road conditions have led them to feel helpless.
“You could say this road was downright terrible. On clear days, all was dust. On rainy days, it was basically not walkable. Our residents are heavily impacted by this,”a Mashuru district official named Keyinange said. “Now that the road has been quickly repaired, this is the best gift that the Chinese people have given to us local people, except for the outer rail.” According to Xiang Mingshen, the manager in charge, road repairs are one of the company projects that benefit locals. The project department understood which projects to pursue after local residents expressed their transportation needs. From the 19th of the month, 8.3 km of the most seriously deficient portions of the road were repaired. The planned duration of the project is two weeks, and 60% of the project has already been completed. Except for the local government providing soil sources, building materials, equipment, and labor were provided by the Chinese side.
“This road conveniently facilitates the transportation of livestock for sale. I also believe that it will drive our local economy,” said Jackson, a 49-year-old local herder. He also explained that, apart from road repair, some Chinese people coach them on husbandry from time to time. According to Xiang Mingsheng, “because the local climate is dry, the project has built a reservoir for herders and intends to provide the next step for local students, providing assistance and donations for local schools. Meanwhile, the project has trained more than a dozen staff currently engaged in measuring, testing and other railway construction. The required local technical staff has advanced along with progress of the project; the number of local workers will expand to 200 people.
The Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway is one of the largest rail projects Kenya has undertaken since independence. According to reports, the project has hired more than 4,000 Kenyans. As the project progresses, it is expected to employ at least 30,000 local employees.
About Xinhua News Agency (http://www.xinhuanet.com/ )
“Xinhua News Agency is the state press agency of the People’s Republic of China. Xinhua is a ministry- level department subordinate to the State Council. It operates 107 foreign bureaus worldwide, and maintains 31 bureaus in China—one for each province, plus a military bureau. Xinhua is the sole channel for the distribution of important news related to the Communist Party and Chinese central government.” (Wikipedia)