Kenyan business people can now trade virtually with their Chinese counterparts following the rollout of an e-commerce platform.
The digital platform, China-Central & East Africa (Kenya) International Trade Digital Expo (CCPIT), will serve as a virtual marketplace for Kenyan traders seeking to buy products from China, and Chinese traders who want to buy Kenyan products.
The new innovation was motivated by the challenges brought about by Covid-19 which has led to limited travel for trade and leisure. However, the platform will continue to shape Nairobi-Beijing trade relations post-pandemic, say the architects of the project.
The new platform was unveiled during an expo two weeks ago that brought together Kenyan, African and Chinese traders. During the event, 5,929 Kenya businesspeople, who formed the bulk of the 13,990 participants from Africa, interacted closely with Chinese traders drawn from 1,026 enterprises that exhibited their various products.
The fair also attracted 30 Africa-based enterprises which exhibited agricultural produce such as nuts, coffee, and black tea.
CCPIT vice president Zhang Shenfeng said the virtual marketplace will immensely enhance trade between China and Kenya as well as other African countries.
China, he said, is actively cultivating closer ties with the world economies as it offers “broader market opportunities to other countries”.
The 10-day virtual event that kicked off on November 12, saw 8,114 participants strike deals worth 60,000,000 with a further potential orders valued at Sh744 million, mainly involving agricultural products, building materials, textiles and clothing, as well as machinery and equipment.
Kenyan envoy to China, Sarah Serem said the virtual Kenya-China trade tries will promote more exports from Nairobi, thus reducing the trade imbalance between the two countries, which is significantly tilted in favour of Beijing.
China is the largest source market for Kenya, accounting for about a fifth of Kenya’s annual total import bill of Sh1.6 trillion.
Between January and November last year, China exported to Kenya goods worth Sh324.90 billion, or 20.3 percent of Sh1.6 trillion import bill, a marginal drop from Sh346.87 billion a year earlier, due to reduced imports of machinery for the building of the standard gauge railway (SGR).
The exhibition focused on helping African enterprises expand their reach in China, how Chinese buyers could order directly for products from sellers in Kenya and the entire Africa.