by Ronald Njoroge
NAIROBI, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Thirty-five Kenyan students will depart to China at the end of February on a scholarship program to prepare them for Kenya's new railway.
Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the students will receive undergraduate education at Beijing Jiaotong University, a top university in China for railway studies.
"The students will receive high-level training for operating Kenya's railway and even the East African railway network in the future," Macharia said.
The 35 students are the second batch of Kenyan students going to study in China under the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) scholarship program which aims to train 100 Kenya students in railway studies.
The first batch of 25 students left for China in 2016.
Macharia said Kenya as well as the East African region lacks sufficient number of railway professionals to develop and maintain railway infrastructure.
"So once the students complete their studies they will get employment given that Kenya plans to extend its railway network," he added.
The Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is set to be completed in June, with the government already gotten financing for the Nairobi-Naivasha railway.
The CCCC scholarship program is part of China's commitment to sponsoring 1,000 Kenya students for undergraduate studies in China in the next three years.
Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa said Kenya and China have been enjoying cordial relations that continue to grow in leaps and bounds leading to even closer ties.
Liu said the ongoing construction of the SGR that is being funded by the Chinese government is an example of the pragmatic relations between the two friendly nations.
He noted that Beijing would assist Kenya to improve its human capacity in all fields and especially in the railways sector.
According to the ambassador, the CCCC scholarship program will create a pool of highly skilled individuals, who will help to shape the future of Kenya as well as the East African railways network.
He noted that the SGR will expand employment opportunities as well as improve the livelihoods of people along the railway line.