Ten employees of Chinese companies operating in Kenya were honored after emerging as winners in the “My Chinese Story” Speech Competition related to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This inaugural competition commenced in September, with 60 participants succeeding in the preliminary rounds and progressing through the rigorous stages of the semifinals. It culminated in the selection of the final 10 contestants.
Shakeel Shabbir, Chairman of the Kenya-China Friendship Group of Parliament, underscored the significance of the competition in highlighting the benefits Kenya has derived from its participation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Shabbir emphasized that China’s infrastructure projects in Kenya, such as the Nairobi Expressway, have significantly alleviated congestion in high-traffic areas.
Shabbir encouraged Kenya to engage in Belt and Road cooperation, facilitating the efficient movement of goods and people within the country through the newly constructed infrastructure. The Kenya-China Economic and Trade Association commended the competition for honoring the exceptional contributions made by tens of thousands of Kenyan employees working in Chinese enterprises, further strengthening Sino-Kenyan relations.
Patrick Nyangweso, CEO of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a prominent trade lobby group, highlighted the transformative impact of the BRI on Kenya’s economy from a private sector perspective. He stated that BRI-related projects have expanded economic opportunities by opening up lucrative markets for Kenyan goods.
Nyangweso noted specific projects that Kenya has realized as a result of its involvement in the BRI, including the modern Standard Gauge Railway connecting the port of Mombasa and the inland port of Naivasha. Concilia Owire, who secured the first place in the competition, expressed the significance of the contest in allowing her to share how the BRI has positively influenced her life.
Owire, a 29-year-old who was the first female locomotive driver at the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), now serves as an assistant manager at Afristar Railway Operations Company, the operator of the SGR. She was also appointed as the main driver for the inaugural trip of the Nairobi-Mombasa SGR when it was launched in May 2017.
Owire highlighted that the BRI has facilitated her transformation into a role model for many young Kenyan girls and has enabled her to serve as a railway ambassador, demonstrating the benefits of modern railway systems.
Jeanee May Ongiyo, Head of Public Relations and Spokesperson at MOJA Expressway Company, the operator of the Nairobi Expressway, emphasized that Kenya has reaped the rewards of its participation in the BRI, particularly through the construction of modern highways that have enhanced connectivity across different regions of the country.