The Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Sun Baohong has said communication barriers between Kenyans and Chinese in the construction of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has slowed down the skills transfer from Chinese experts to Kenyan workers.
The number of Chinese workers working on the SGR was supposed to decline as Kenyans took over most of the roles. However, over one year after passenger and cargo services began, the number of Chinese involved in the project is higher than was expected since Kenyans are not being involved in the main operations.
However, Baohong said China is keen to transfer skills to Kenyans through training in the technical management of the railways and train services so that more locals can be recruited.
This news comes amid allegations of abuse on Kenyan SGR workers which the Baohong has defended as a “little punishment.”
“It is little punishment and part of team building which all Chinese including me do. Maybe, if it is found to be offensive to Kenyans then the company can change to another mode of exercise,” she said.
The Ambassador has blamed the conflict between Kenyan and Chinese workers on cultural differences and said: “It will take time for them to socialise and fully engage with one another.”
On debt matters, where 55 per cent of Kenya’s public debt is owed to China, Baohong believes the financial undertakings between the two countries have tangible results. China also plans to work with the Kenyan government in achieving the Big Four agenda.
Earlier this year, Rex Tillerson warned African governments that they risk giving up their sovereignty when taking Chinese loans.
“We are not in any way attempting to keep Chinese dollars from Africa. It is important that African countries carefully consider the terms of those agreements [with China] and not forfeit their sovereignty,” Tillerson said at a press conference in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa as reported by Reuters.