Feature: Chinese products gain popularity among Kenyan consumers
NAIROBI, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The balmy weather that enveloped Kenya's capital of Nairobi on Wednesday afternoon provided an opportunity for Daniel to relax and meditate outside the textiles shop where he works as a salesman.
Daniel's textiles shop that is located at a busy street in downtown Nairobi is a popular destination for middle class Kenyans looking for curtains and beddings that have an exotic feel.
The suave salesman with an athletic body frame told Xinhua that the bulk of fabrics sold at the retail shop where he has worked in the last one year are sourced from China.
"We have been importing textiles, beddings and garments from China and the response from our clients has been positive," said Daniel who preferred his first name only, adding that he has no reservations on products manufactured in China.
According to Daniel, textiles imported from China have struck a chord with local clients given their high quality, affordable cost and durability.
"I think textiles are my favorite Chinese brands so far. But I also believe machinery imported from China is serving this country well as we embark on industrialization," said Daniel.
Now in his late 20s, Daniel belongs to a growing rank of young Kenyan entrepreneurs who consider China a favorite destination for sourcing consumer goods.
Potential customers who streamed into his shop admired the elegant fabric on display and some of them promised to return at a later date to purchase their favorite curtains and bed sheets.
A random survey in Nairobi's central business district revealed that traders and their clients have developed a strong attachment to products imported from the Asian country.
John Mwangi, a middle aged father of three who operates an electronics shop in downtown Nairobi, said that energy saving bulbs, sockets and solar lanterns imported from China are popular with local clients.
"We have local agents who facilitate importation of electrical appliances from China on our behalf and our customers have no problem with these products because they are pocket friendly," said Mwangi.
The energy saving bulbs, in particular, are popular with developers who are putting up apartments in middle to lower income settlements in Nairobi, he added.
As China emerges as Kenya's largest trading partner, local entrepreneurs and consumers have benefited from access to products that are cheaper and of high quality.
Government statistics indicate that China's manufactured products that include electronics, motorcycles, clothes, machinery, furniture and automotive parts account for about 23 percent of all imports coming into the East African Nation.
Angela, tourism major in her mid-20s, gave a positive assessment of Chinese brands like smartphones and kitchenware that have a large presence in the Kenyan market.
She revealed that Huawei smartphones remain her favorite Chinese brand and noted that majority of retail shops in her residential district are stocked with merchandise from the world's second largest economy.
"My impression of Chinese products has remained positive given that they are serving our needs well," said Angela, adding that she aspires to own a travel agency firm that will targets tourists from unexploited markets in Asia.
The growing popularity of Made-in-China products was evident at the China trade week held in Nairobi in June where hundreds of local clients visited exhibition stalls in search of textiles, home appliances, electronics and vehicle spare parts.
Nemaisa Kiereini, chief executive officer of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), told Xinhua that confidence in Chinese manufactured goods among local consumers has grown in recent times.
According to Kiereini, Kenyan consumers have interacted with Made-in-China products for many decades and cannot be swayed by distorted narratives like poor quality.
Joseph, a waiter at a busy eatery adjacent to a famous public park in Nairobi, said he is comfortable with Chinese goods because they are affordable to Kenyans in the low income bracket.
"The Chinese products are good, I do not have a problem with them. I like Chinese phones because they are cheaper and easy to operate," said Joseph.
"Right now, I am using a Tecno smartphone that I bought at a shop in downtown Nairobi and it has given me quality service," said Joseph.