The Kenyan experience of EXPO 2010 Shanghai

Lets start by learning  Chinese language- “Ni-Hao?. It means "Ni aje?! ”

The president meets Kenyan exhibitors at the Expo
From May 1st to October 31st 2010 Kenya participated in World Exposition 2010 Shanghai, China through the Export Promotion Council, in conjunction with Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Tourism, Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Beijing, Bomas of Kenya, Kenya Investment Authority and 26 other public and private organizations.  World Expositions are galleries of human inspirations and thought and have attained increasing prominence as grand events for economic, scientific, technological and cultural exchanges, serving as important platforms for displaying historical experiences and exchanging innovative ideas on sustainable development. 

Major EXPOs are held every five years, followed by mini-expos which take place every three years.  As such Expos are not similar to other events on the National Export Development Calendar such as trade fairs, due to their focus, duration and scale.  Expo Shanghai was held within 5.2 square kilometre area of Shanghai and attracted 73 Million visitors in the six months that it run.

The theme of EXPO 2010 Shanghai, China was "Better City, Better Life.” It aimed to highlight blending of diversity, economic prosperity, innovation in science and technology and rural –urban interaction. Kenya was among the 246 countries and international organizations that participated in EXPO 2010.  Under the theme “Cities of Discovery and Harmony” the country displayed a blend of history, modernity, development and natural aspects that make Kenya a great country. Kenya’s participation was intended to promote Kenya’s development initiatives, tourism, foreign direct investment, and also enhance the country’s reputation in the Chinese and East Asia markets by showcasing Kenya as an the preferred investment, trade and tourism destination. Kenya’s participation was officially opened by H.E. President Mwai Kibaki on 30th April 2010 on the eve of the launch of the Expo accompanied by Hon. Amos Kimunya, Hon. Fred Gumo, and Hon Uhuru Kenyatta.
The grand nature of the EXPO truly set it apart from other trade shows and allowed the country to pursue multiple interests within a single event. By attracting 6 Million visitors to the Kenya pavilion the country was able to position itself as the economic, technological and cultural hub for East and Central Africa. The country’s participation led to greater awareness in the Chinese market of Kenyan export products, particularly tea, coffee, fish, pyrethrum, edible nuts and leather products.  The country was also able to partially realize the goal of penetrating and expanding Kenya’s market share by introducing Kenyan companies and products in Asia, but more specifically, South East Asia region. The EXPO provided a background for Kenyan companies to display, promote and sell their products and services and create new partnerships in the Chinese Market. Over 8 million Kshs in sales was generated from the Kenya Bazaar from which 16 Kenyan Companies sold their products.  During the EXPO the country hosted a Day and Business Forum on 9th and 10th September 2010 respectively. The Honourable Minister for Trade Chirau Ali Mwakwere led a strong delegation of 79 members from both public and private sector.  The delegation met 132 Chinese companies interested in Trade, Investment, and Tourism in Kenya.  The large turn out by Chinese companies emphasise Kenya’s potential value as a trade and investment partner.  Through Bomas of Kenya the country showcased its unique and wonderful culture through song and dance.   The Expo also provided an avenue for the deepening of Sino -Kenya Relations as witnessed by the signing of an MOU between Lamu and Jing’an district of Shanghai.

Kenya’s successful participation was underscored by winning two awards for Thematic focus and performance by the EXPO Bureau- Africa Pavilion. The full impact of Kenya’s participation in EXPO 2010 Shanghai is yet to be felt as we anticipate growing realization of the associations and relationships created during the Expo in the coming months and years. The EXPO revealed the high potential of Kenya’s relationship with China, leading to better trade, greater investment, and mutually beneficial cultural exchange.

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