China Premier Li in Kenya to boost trade, wildlife protection

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta meets with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang upon his arrival in Nairobi, at the presidential pavillion of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on May 08, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta meets with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang upon his arrival in Nairobi, at the presidential pavillion of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on May 08, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

NAIROBI (AFP) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Nairobi Friday on the final leg of a four-nation Africa tour, in a visit expected to boost trade, transport links and conservation, Kenya's presidency said.

The Chinese official is on a four-country tour of Africa, his first since taking office last year, with the world's second-biggest economy keen to boost its presence on the continent to find new markets and opportunities.

Li will also meet regional leaders on Sunday in Kenya, including Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Salva Kiir of war-torn South Sudan, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.

The Chinese leader is expected to ink agreements on a railway to link the Kenyan port of Mombasa to the Burundian capital Bujumbura, passing though Uganda and Rwanda, with a proposed branch line heading to South Sudan.

Li and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will sign over a dozen deals to "deepen the ties" between the two nations, including "financing for infrastructure, agriculture and wildlife conservation," Kenya's presidency said in a statement.

Li is also expected to make a "major statement" on wildlife poaching and the illegal ivory trade on a visit Saturday to Nairobi national park, where tons of ivory were famously torched in 1989.

sPoaching has risen sharply across Africa in recent years, and much of the ivory smuggled is destined for China, whose rapidly growing economy has encouraged those enjoying disposable income to splash out on an ivory trinket as a sign of financial success.