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Building an oasis of professional talent

Updated: 2013-01-22 09:52
By Li Jiabao ( China Daily)

As China urges its enterprises to expand overseas, one firm has found opportunities for vocational training in Kenya. Li Jiabao reports from Nairobi.

"The profits are not big now, but the prospects are surely very bright," said Si Yanxuan, chief representative in East Africa for AVIC International Holding Corp.

AVIC International is a service provider of vocational training in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. The joint training project launched in January 2010 with Kenya's Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology will help train around 10,000 craftsmen or mechanics each year who can contribute to the development of the nation's sugar producing, agriculture machinery and vehicle maintenance industries.

Building an oasis of professional talent

Two Chinese instructors provide training on machinery operation to students at a university in Kenya. [Photo / China Daily]

Kenya aims to become a "middle-income country providing a high quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030", according to the government's Vision 2030 program.

Although it is the biggest and most advanced economy in eastern and central Africa, Kenya remains a developing economy, with around half of its 41.6 million people living in poverty. The nation's agricultural sector, which employs around 75 percent of the workforce, accounted for 28 percent of Kenya's GDP in 2011, while industry and manufacturing accounted for just 16 percent, according to the World Bank.

Vocational training remains largely unknown in most African countries, which has impeded their economic development.

China's vocational training projects will help them boost their skilled workforce and unlock their economies' growth potential, Si said.

"China should invest more in Africa to improve bilateral trade rather than just sell products to the continent. In addition to agriculture and manufacturing, more efforts should be made to help China's service sector, especially small and medium companies, enter the African market," said Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman and secretary-general of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

AVIC International has been doing business in Kenya since 1995, when it started selling aviation products, vehicles and construction machinery to the Kenyan government.

"As the lifespan of this equipment is normally quite lengthy, we have turned our attention to other areas in Kenya in order to drum up more business," Si said.

AVIC International won a $100 million contract with the Kenyan education ministry in 2010 to help boost the research capabilities of Kenyan university laboratories, in line with the aims of Kenya Vision 2030.

"We are commissioned to design and construct the labs, as well as supply and install the electronic, mechanical and experimental equipment and provide parts. In addition to training students and teachers, we are also contracted to set up the college departments, draft the curriculum, and provide teaching materials," Si said.

All of the equipment has been transported to the 10 universities. More than 300 machine tools and 600 experimental platforms for teaching had been installed and adjusted by December.

More about AVIC International

AVIC signs three-plane deal with Cameroon

AVIC International expands to online antiques auction

China-Africa ties

China-Africa trade likely to hit record high

Africa seeks Europe-style trade bloc

African fishing restrictions may affect co-op with China

Chinese firms urged to fulfill responsibility in Africa

World awakens to a rising Africa

China's development roadmap inspires Africa

'Africa needs China's positive investment'

Tapping the potential of Africa's oil

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