China becomes Kenya's trusted infrastructure partner
05 August 2016, 16:22
Nairobi - With some 50 Chinese companies working on various
projects to improve Kenya's infrastructure, analysts say China has
become the east African nation's trusted infrastructure development
"The building of roads, ports and railways is at the heart of Kenya's
economic growth. It is a sign of better ties between Kenya and China,
which translates to prosperity," said Eric Mangunyi, a Strategic
Management expert at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in
Initially concentrated on roads, the Chinese investment in Kenya has
over the years grown to span more areas such as power generation, water
and railway transport as well as housing.
Topping the list of projects being undertaken by the Chinese is the
3.6 billion U.S. dollars Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), which runs from
Mombasa, at the Kenyan Coast to the border with Uganda.
The China-funded project being built by the China Roads and Bridges
Corporation is billed as the most ambitious in the East African nation
since independence in 1963.
It features eight underpasses that cross over the world-renowned Tsavo National Park and has 98 bridges.
According to the Kenya Railways Corporation, the SGR, as is fondly
known in the country, is about 75 percent complete and would be
completed a year ahead of schedule.
"We will start to import 60 locomotive engines, 1,620 wagons and 40
passenger coaches at the end of this year," said Atanas Maina, Kenya
Railway managing director in a recent interview.
He noted that there are 33 stations along the line, two of which will
be the traffic hubs at both ends, 23 will be passing stations and eight
Kenyans are waiting with bated breath the completion of the railway,
with citizens terming it as a panacea to many transport challenges they
"Once the railway is operational, I do not think I will board a bus
to Mombasa to visit my parents. I am told the ten-hour journey by bus
will be shortened by almost half. I cannot wait for the new train
service," Ismail Abdalla, a resident of Mombasa, who works in Nairobi,
To Judith Kwamboka, a resident of Kitengela some 32km from Nairobi, a
commuter train operated on the line that passes in the suburb is her
hope for better commuting in coming years.
Away from the railway, the Chinese are working on various energy
projects, but the coal one in Eastern Kenya stands out as it marks a new
beginning in power production in the country that had relied on
Coal is set to provide up to 2,400MW of electricity by 2030 as per
the Least Cost Power Development Plan 2011/2031 of the Energy and
Another Chinese company is working on the Garissa Solar Park project in Northern Kenya.
The 200-acre plant is expected to boost the development of the region
hit hard by extremism and terror attacks, and will produce 76,470MW per
year, while reducing carbon emissions by 64,190 tonnes annually.
At the Kenyan Coast, the Chinese are building another ambitious
project dubbed the Lamu Port to connect the East and Central Africa.
The port is part of the 24 billion U.S. dollars project expected to
be Kenya's second transport corridor and will be completed in three
According to Presidential Strategic Communication Unit, in the past
14 years, China has funded 70 development projects in Kenya, a good
number of which are complete.
They range from 108 million-U.S. dollar grant from Chinese government
to build the North and East Ring Road sections in Nairobi to the
multi-billion loan to finance the Standard Gauge Railway.