President Uhuru Kenyatta has invited Chinese firms to form joint ventures with local companies to create more manufacturing bases.
While acknowledging China's leading role as a trading partner in the Kenyan economy, the President said his administration will give priority to trade and investment opportunities that lend support to the government's Big Four Agenda especially on manufacturing.
"China now ranks as the number one trading partner with Kenya accounting for 17.2 per cent of Kenya's total trade with the world. I would like to encourage more firms to establish joint ventures with Kenyan entrepreneurs and to increase the content of locally produced goods and services in their projects and industries," he said in Shanghai where he gave a keynote address at the inaugural China International Import Expo.
China, a resource-hungry economy, has in recent years made inroads in African nations including Kenya.
The president's remarks coincided with the announcement by one China's largest tiles manufacturing firms, Keda Ceramics, that it plans to expand its operations in Kenya with the launch of the third phase of its production plant in Kajiado.
In a statement, the firm said it will invest Sh2.5 billion in that phase, pushing the total investment in the country to Sh8.1 billion since 2016 and adding 500 more jobs from 2019. This investment is expected to be a major boost to the country's manufacturing and housing sector, said the firm's administrative manager, Ryan Chen.
On Monday, President Kenyatta asked his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to enact measures which can raise the volume of goods coming from Africa to China. He asked more Chinese firms to invest locally, saying Kenya has one of the most conducive business environments in Africa.