China and Kenya have signed a deal that will see the Asian powerhouse fund Nairobi’s railway modernisation project, which will herald the construction of the East African country’s portion of the regional standard gauge railway (SGR).
The agreement inked on Sunday signals the commitment of China to 90 percent funding of the 609.3 kilometre Mombasa-Nairobi phase of the project estimated to cost Sh327 billion ($3.8 billion). Kenya government will fund the remaining 10 percent of the project, which will commence on October 1st and is expected to be completed in 42 months.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said after the ceremony that the East African country “has found an honourable partner in China”.
He added that such dependable friends would foster economic growth and help the country in its development strides.
China had in August 2013 promised Nairobi Sh425 billion ($4.9 billion), part of which Sh319 billion will be used for constructing the Mombasa-Nairobi section of the SGR project as well as buying wagons and locomotives.
“The costs of moving our people and our goods … across our borders will fall sharply,” said an excited Kenyatta on Sunday.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said China’s partnership with Africa was “a communication linking the hearts and minds of people”, noting that it was not a one-off cooperation.
The deal earlier had challenges in the Kenyan parliament but was resolved about two weeks ago. However, legal challenges, notably from the Law Society of Kenya on the financing and procurement of deals between Kenya and China remains an issue, although it is believed they have little chance of success.
The deal which was signed by Henry Rotich, Kenya’s Finance Cabinet Secretary and his Chinese counterpart, Gao Hucheng was witnessed by Kenyatta and Keqiang.
Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Salva Kiir of South Sudan were also present at the ceremony. (VENTURES AFRICA)