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The British economic influence lingered on after Kenya gained her independence in
1963. It was espoused by their car models, banking system and an education where most
Kenyans saw UK as the destination of choice for their university education particularly
among the elites. Two of Kenya’s presidents schooled in Britain. Soon the Japanese
followed with first Toyota car sold in Kenya in 1965.That all changed with opening up
of China in 1978, the end of cold war and accession of China to World Trade
Organization (WTO) in 2002. Today, China is now a leading investor in Africa. Can
Kenya learn something from China? This paper compares Kenya and China using a
number of economic indicators from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth,
population growth, innovation, Research and Development (R&D), Foreign Direct
Investment (FDI), life expectancy, urbanization, Human Development Index (HDI) and
contribution of manufacturing to GDP. The analysis shows Kenya can learn a lot from
China in her quest to grow economically. This paper serves as a good starting point in
Kenya’s engagement with China in One belt one road initiative (OBOR). By analyzing
the economic similarities and differences, between the two nations, OBOR’s success rate
could be raised and help catalyse Africa’s growth and make her part of the global
economic system through the win –win cooperation espoused by Chinese president
during the Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa (BRICS) summit in South Africa in
2018. The paper finds that while every countries growth trajectory is different, it is
possible to learn from each other. Future research should focus on how OBOR shall
spur growth in Africa and gauge its success against Western economic engagement with
Africa since the countries got their independence.

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The Africa Management Review is published quaterly by the Department of Business Administration, School of Business, University of Nairobi.

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