Kenyan businesses absolve China firms from tender claims
2012-09-29 15:03

NAIROBI, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Chinese companies came under praise from Kenyan businessmen on Friday for their achiever attitude and were also absolved of claims of bias in the awarding of tenders by the Kenyan government.

During the 1st Kenyan-German Business Forum held in Nairobi and at which more than 200 German businessmen and their Kenyan counterparts participated, Kenyan business firms rebuffed claims of bias by their German counterparts in the awarding of tenders, saying that the Chinese were always there during bidding time.

"Claims that Chinese firms are treated favorably against their counterparts are unfounded. The Chinese are always present to tender their bids whenever an advertisement has been placed in the media and they should not be blamed for their aggressiveness," CEO of Rift Valley Railways Tobias Heinemann who is a German national told the forum.

"When we recently announced tenders for rolling stock, within a day I received 10 applications out of which 8 were by Chinese firms with the remaining 2 being from Indian firms. Where were the German firms? They were nowhere in sight and therefore it is not right to accuse the Chinese of being favored."

Apec Limited CEO Johnson Matu said Chinese contractors cut costs by adopting simple lifestyle and do with the bare minimal while undertaking their assignments in the country thereby reducing the costs of projects.

"The Chinese are always the cheapest among their competitors partly because they are ready to even stay in dormitory-like situations as long as their environment is safe, unlike their counterparts who prefer to put up in big hotels where they incur hefty bill which in turn push up the cost of their projects."

He said whereas the Chinese were most aggressive in their businesses and were ready to partner with their Kenyan counterparts to further cut costs, the German suppliers do not understand cheap solutions. His sentiments were shared by many businessmen in the forum.

The rejoinders were in reply to complaints to Kenya by the German Ambassador Margit Hellwig-Botte over what she termed as undue advantage accorded to Chinese companies due to financing by the government of China.

"I know that you won't like what I am saying but there is preferential treatment given to Chinese companies without considering that Germans deliver quality work," the envoy had earlier said amidst loud applause from German investors.

During the forum, which was opened by Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, it emerged that out of 3.8 million companies operating in Germany, and only 70 are present in Kenya.

Bilateral relations between Kenya and China have been strengthening over the years.

According to latest figures compiled by Kenya's National Bureau of Statistics, Kenya exported goods worth 4.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2008, of which items valued at 29 million dollars were shipped or flown to China.