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Chinese aid key to African development: Kenyan expert

2010/07/20, FOCAC website

NAIROBI, July 19 (Xinhua) -- China's development aid, mostly targeting the infrastructure sector, is key to the development of Kenya and Africa as a whole, a Kenyan development analyst says.

China is pushing for a greater role in the development of Kenya's infrastructure -- an area with significant untapped potential for Chinese firms, said Edward Oyugi, a professor at the University of Nairobi.

"China's aid to Kenya has increased in size. It has not been subject conditionalities which have been the hallmark of Western bi- and multilateral aid which have caused many African economies a lot of problems," Oyugi told Xinhua in an interview.

He said the Chinese aid has targeted the infrastructural sector, which is key for development.

Beijing sees infrastructure as central to economic development and much of the aid and soft loans issued in recent years have supported investment in the area.

Oyugi agreed that Nairobi and Beijing should diversify new areas of development cooperation to include health, energy and education.

China's aid, Oyugi said, has been geared to infrastructure, trade and education sectors and in direct budget support, which gives Kenya the necessary latitude to direct the received resources to where they are needed.

"Chinese aid should continue to grow in size and scale up in favor of strategic sectors that are key for equitable economic development in Africa," Oyugi said.

According to regional economic analysts, there was still room for more infrastructure investment in East Africa.

They said Beijing should use the China-Africa Development fund to help channel more Chinese investment into Africa and identify suitable projects in Kenya.

China says it will continue to support Africa's energy sector, which takes up about a third of its overall assistance to the continent.

Agriculture, healthcare and education will also receive ongoing support while projects to help tackle climate change are expected to get new commitments from China at this year's UN Climate Change conference in Cancun, Mexico.

"Whether or not the Chinese economy will cope with the anticipated increased demand for support is a moot question at the moment," Oyugi said. "Of course it will depend on the extent to which the Chinese economy will continue to bear the burden of underwriting the U.S. sovereign indebtedness."

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