China's growing interest in Africa is translating to an increase in the visibility of Chinese firms on the continent.
This was apparent at the recently concluded China Trade Week 2016 in Nairobi, where close to 400 Chinese companies came looking for opportunities for trade and investment in Kenya.
Compared to China Trade Week 2015, there were twice as many companies exhibiting at this year's event. There was also a great deal of interest and enthusiasm from Kenyan businesses, government, and attendees to discuss what China has to offer.
The event took place from 1st - 3rd July, 2016. It was opened by the Chinese ambassador to Kenya, Liu Xianfa, and saw other dignitaries from Kenya address Chinese companies and attendees during launch.
Developing Stronger Ties with China
According to Michelle Meyrick, the International Events Director at MIE, the official organizer of the China Trade Week, the expo has helped create stronger ties between Kenyan and Chinese companies. As many Kenyans seek to source products and services from China, the expo has contributed to enhancing this relationship.
Here is a video recap of the expo:
Training sessions during the event were also conducted to help Kenyan businesses looking to visit and do business with Mainland China. Among the things taught was how to communicate with Chinese companies on the Internet, contractual agreements, and safety precautions. Experts were on hand to help local business people one-on-one.
Currently Kenya imports products from China worth $14B yearly. This includes machinery, transport, and petroleum products. Over the last decade, China has grown to become Kenya's second largest trade partner, and currently holds more than half of Kenya's external debt. As such, China has become the largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Kenya.
It was no surprise therefore to see plenty of companies in the agricultural, motor vehicle, electrical, and plastics industries showcase their latest products and technologies.
As Chinese firms look to do more business, they are showcasing their products at events such as trade fairs and expos in the hope of finding local partners for distribution. While at the moment it is the Government of China that's driving investment and partnerships, private firms can build on the momentum that these links have created in order to increase the potential market for their products.