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Chinese doors for cooperation with Kenya always open, Ambassador says

Chinese Ambassador Zhou Pingjian with some of the beneficiaries of Ambassador scholarships. PHOTO/COURTESY

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Zhou Pingijian emphasized Friday that Beijing remains open to enhance and expand cooperation with Nairobi for the benefit of the people.

The top diplomat who spoke during the award of scholarships to 25 Kenyan university students described Kenya and China as very good friends and important partners who need each other at all times. Amongst other avenues, Ambassador Zhou noted that China will continue to support Kenya’s education sector.

“We are simply one family. At the embassy, it’s only natural for us find ways to show our friendship. The embassy started the scholarship program ten years happy that we can play a small part in rewarding the Kenyan students,” he said

The ambassador said education is the gateway to any meaningful economic development, citing the latest technologies and know-how that have helped catapult China from being a poor country to an economic powerhouse.

“Deep in the Chinese culture, education is important. We believe here in Kenya we also appreciate the importance and significance of education. Actually, Education is one of the priority areas of our bilateral cooperation.”

The envoy noted that over the years, China and Kenya have enjoyed very strong and warm relations, and expressed satisfaction that a lot has been achieved through the existing bilateral cooperation.

As the two countries prepare to celebrate the 60th anniversary of China-Kenya diplomatic relations, the diplomat expressed optimism that Nairobi and Beijing will build on past achievements to do a lot more in the coming years to ensure mutually beneficial cooperation, especially through exchanges in the education sector.

“For us, it is a natural thing to do and we will try to do even more. What I can assure you is that our doors are always open to students, universities, government officials, and all Kenyans,” he said

University of Nairobi Dean of Students Johnson Ireri Kinyua, who represented the institution’s Vice Chancellor at the ceremony, thanked the embassy for the scholarships saying the awards will have a huge impact on Kenya’s education.

“As you know, the country will never grow without the aspect of education, skills, and competence of its manpower. This contributes toward the development of the manpower that the country is gearing to achieve so that we can achieve our vision 2030 as well as the African Union Agenda 2063 as we look forward to being a part of the global community over achieving the SDGs,” he said

Some of the University of Nairobi students who received the scholarships include Lucy Mwihaki and Apwacho Erastus Amega.

Mwihaki, from Murang’a County and a Second-Year Student studying Bachelor of Science in Agriculture indicated that she first got assistance from well-wishers who assisted her in joining the university, settling her fees for the first year. She had expected that she would get bursaries for the second year but she wasn’t successful. Mwihaki then heard about the Chinese scholarship which she applied for and got.

“I can say I am grateful to the Chinese ambassador for giving me this chance to be able to pursue and realize my dreams. I know in future, I am on going to be somewhere (better) in this country, will be able to give back to the community,” Lucy Mwihaki said after receiving the scholarship

Her colleague Amega hails from Mukuru kwa Reuben informal settlements in Nairobi where he grew up, in poverty.  He went to a local primary school and in his third year, dropped out and was enrolled in a nearby Children’s center where he met someone to support him through primary school.

When he got to class eight, he says the person supporting him left the country, an act that left him stranded. Luckily, he got a scholarship from the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation which ensured that he finished High school, where he scored an A (plain) and was admitted to the University of Nairobi to study Medicine and Surgery. He, however, needed support to study at the University.

“The alumni of the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation scholarship contributed and paid my first-year school fees and in my second year I was challenged and that’s where after this scholarship was advertised, I applied and got. I am very thankful for this opportunity.” He said

“These are the few of the 113 recipients of Chinese ambassador scholarships, and on behalf of the vice chancellor I can say that this is the best thing that has ever happened,” their Dean, Mr. Kinyua said

The Chinese ambassador scholarship program has been running for the last ten years and 344 University students from various public universities in Kenya have benefitted. The ceremony coincided with celebrations to mark Chinese National Day starting October 1st where Chinese commemorate 73 years since the People’s Republic of China was founded under the Communist Party of China.