Chinese Supermarket China Square Kenya Reopens After Intervention by the KCCC

The reopening comes after the Chinese mall was indefinitely closed after local traders and importers protested its pricing saying that it was taking them out of business.

Chinese Supermarket China Square Kenya Reopens After Intervention by the KCCC
China Square was reopened on Monday the 6th of March, after an agreement between the Kenyan government and the Chinese community in Kenya. Source: CN.
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Chinese supermarket China Square Kenya was reopened on Monday the 6th of March 2023 following the intervention of the Kenya Chinese Chamber of Commerce, KCCC. The reopening comes after the Chinese mall was indefinitely closed after local traders and importers protested its pricing saying that it was taking them out of business. Read more on how these claims had xenophobic undertones below.

“We Want China Square Out!” - Interrogating the Xenophobic Undertones of the China Square Protests
For the cartels, this was unacceptable. How dare the Chinese come to interfere and steal their captured market?

China Square Kenya Reopens After an Agreement Between the KCCC and the Kenyan Government

Not surprisingly, the Chinese community in Kenya reacted to the closure of the mall and had "several engagements" with the Kenyan government via the Kenya China Chamber of Commerce, KCCC. The KCCC intervened for China Square and its Chinese CEO Lei Cheng, and apparently struck a deal with the Kenyan Ministry of Trade allowing the opening of the mall.

KCCC and the Kenyan Ministry of Trade Reach an "Amicable Solution"

According to a statement by the KCCC after the reopening: "We welcome the good news on the resumption of operations of China Square. This follows several engagements between the Kenya Government and the Chinese Community in Kenya to reach an amicable solution to the stalemate."  

Kenya's Growing Dependence on China

This aligning of views on the part of the Kenyan Ministry of Trade is symbolic of the growing dependence of Kenya on China. Kenya is a major importer of Chinese goods with the Chinese only importing a tiny fraction of that volume from Kenya.

The Growing Debt Trap

Kenya is also very dependent on the Chinese in terms of infrastructure loans and still has a huge loan to service from the Chinese. This was the loan taken out by the previous government to finance and build the Standard Gauge Railway, SGR, from Mombasa to Nairobi and its further extension from Nairobi to Nyahururu. The railway was also slated to be extended from Nyahururu to Kisumu.

A train carrying cargo on the Standard Gauge Railways, SGR
A train carrying cargo on the Standard Gauge Railways, SGR. Source: CN.

A Failed SGR Project

The SGR, however, didn't get to Kisumu due to "financial constraints" and only reached Suswa in Narok County. As a band-aid to the failure, the Kenyan government instead opted to rehabilitate the colonial-age Meter Gauge Railway (MGR).

Why China Square Had to Stay Whether the Kenyan Government Wanted it to or Not

Out of this dependence on China, it was a very bold but stupid step by the ministry of trade to think that they would come out publicly against a Chinese business and come out the other end winning. Kenya is heavily indebted to the Chinese and depends on China for a majority of the imports of housewares goods, appliances, technology, skills and expertise (especially in infrastructure), etc.

The Risk of an Exportation Embargo from the Chinese

Therefore, if China enforced an embargo on the exportation of its goods to Kenya, the country would lose a huge part of its GDP. The reason for this is that a good percentage of all the goods traded in Kenya are imported from China.

The Mombasa Maritime port
The Mombasa Maritime port where goods are imported to and exported from Kenya. Source: KPA.

This is why China Square and its affordable pricing were such a major issue for Kenyan traders and importers who import goods from China. Their goal was to ensure China Square Kenya is closed so that they can continue reaping huge profits from goods they've imported in China and keep ripping off the unaware Kenyan consumer.

What is it Like to Visit China Square Kenya?

Visiting China Square Kenya is a very intriguing shopping experience. First, you have to be aware that the Chinese supermarket is very crowded on all days. As such, you can expect to wait in line: be it outside with your car, where you may even have to park it beside the road, or inside as you try to get into the supermarket itself.

A pictue of the main doors of China Square from the inside where we can see shoppers paying for their products
Shopping in China Square is a pleasant experience despite crowding and newly-adjusted prices. Source: Star.

Did China Square Adjust its Prices?

Once you are inside China Square, you'll be blown away by the variety of goods and their awesome affordability. You'll, however, notice that the pricing is a little bit all over the place as it seems China Square increased some of its prices for specific goods. This may be what was agreed upon between the KCCC and the Kenyan government: that the mall increases some of its prices.

We have gotten reports that the pricing in China Square Kenya is all over the place and not as it was before the mall closed. The pricing is, however, fair and I do not think you'll get such well-priced high-quality goods from China anywhere else in the country.

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