Kennedy Ntara was determined to dodge the agony of joblessness after college and made good use of influential relatives and friends who alerted him on opportunities that were up for grabs.
The 25-year-old procurement and logistics major is currently working at Twyford Ceramics, a Chinese company that has employed hundreds of Kenyan youth in its tiles manufacturing plant located 65 kilometers south west of the capital, Nairobi.
During a recent interview with Xinhua, Ntara said he yearned for an opportunity to work for a Chinese firm since the university days aware of their potential to transform lives of the youth.
“Soon after graduating from the university, I worked for several local companies and when an opportunity to work for Twyford ceramics knocked, I did not hesitate to grab it,” said Ntara.
He was recruited by Twyford Ceramics in November last year and was deployed to the warehouse and supply sections where he is applying skills taught in the university.
“It has been a rewarding five months stint in my current work station. The interactions with local and Chinese staff are cordial and more importantly, I have been able to acquire new knowledge in supply chain management,” said Ntara.
He belongs to a growing army of Kenyan youth who have secured gainful employment from Chinese firms that have invested in the East African nation.
Twyford Ceramics which happens to be a leading manufacturer of high end tiles has offered a lease of life to Kenyan youth who often endure agony of joblessness after finishing college.
Li Ruiqin, the Managing Director of Twyford Ceramics said plans are in the pipeline to increase production in order to meet a high demand for tiles in Kenya and across the Eastern Africa region.
“We intend to establish an additional production line to churn out large volume of tiles for the local and external market. In the process, we anticipate 1500 local jobs will be created,” said Li.
Twyford Ceramics and dozens of Chinese firms operating in Kenya have rallied behind the Belt and Road Initiative championed by Beijing to promote economic and industrial partnership with allies in Africa and other parts of the globe.
The company has invested 70 million dollars in the plant that produces high quality but affordable tiles that have put a luster in Kenya’s and regional real estate sector.
According to Li, Twyford Ceramics produces 25,000 square meters of tiles daily and commands 60 percent of market share in Kenya.
Ntara and his peers were upbeat their employer will soon edge out other competitors to become leading supplier of tiles.
“The growth of this company means additional benefits for me and my colleagues. Am optimistic we will continue causing ripples in the domestic market for tiles. Ultmately, there will be rewards to be accompanied by that growth,” said Ntara.
He lauded the Belt and Road initiative saying it should focus more on industrial development and skills transfer to help address youth unemployment in Kenya.
“I hope our country will remain an attractive destination for Chinese investors not just in infrastructure sector but also in manufacturing and skills development,” Ntara remarked.
His sentiments were echoed by Mark Otieno,a 23-year-old high school graduate and a casual laborer at Twyford ceramics since June last year.
Otieno hailed the transformation of Kenya`s manufacturing sector thanks to Chinese technology.
“I am always amazed by efficient and environmentally friendly production systems in this factory. Even unskilled employees do not strain while on duty,” said Otieno.
He intends to save enough money to cater for college education in the near future.
Kenyans from all walks of life are optimistic that economic partnership with China will be elevated to new levels thanks to Belt and Road Initiative.
President Uhuru Kenyatta told reporters ahead of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation slated for May 14 and 15 that he expected African countries to benefit from improved ties with China across diverse fields like technology, culture, trade and infrastructure development.
Kenyan citizens who are already working for Chinese firms agree with their leaders that Beijing has championed mutually beneficial engagement with foreign allies.
Alan Ogeta, a supervisor at Twyford Ceramics said that Kenya stands to gain immensely from industrial cooperation with China.
“As a country, we should replicate China’s model on industrial transformation in order to boost competitiveness of our economy and create extra jobs for the youth,” Ogeta remarked.