On Thursday, November 28, Kenya launched a multi billion-dollar railway project that will link the port city of Mombasa to the capital of Nairobi. The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta calls the project, “a historic milestone.” Kenyatta told the media, “The project will define my legacy as President of Kenya.” The railway was built by a Chinese state-owned firm called China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), and is funded by the Chinese government. Completion of the first section is estimated within the year 2017.
This is certainly a big deal for Kenya, and for Africa. The current railway in Kenya was built back in the Colonial Era. This project is said to be the nation’s largest infrastructure venture since Kenya’s independence 50 years ago. The new railway comes with economic and China-Kenya relational benefits.
The new transportation addition will impact the people in the region tremendously. This first link of the project, Mombasa to Nairobi, will cut travel time from 15 hours to about 4 hours. Passenger trains will reach a maximum speed of 75 mph.
At the railway launch ceremony, President Kenyatta said, “What we are doing here today will most definitely transform… not only Kenya but the whole eastern African region…east Africa will become a competitive investment destination. A busy growing east Africa is good for us as a country.”
Chinese Ambassador to Kenya, Liu Guangyuan also spoke at the ceremony. He said the railway is a strategic endeavor for Kenya. He noted how railways have powered China’s economy for quite some time.
Deputy Director of the African Department at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, Roger Nord, also explained the impacts this project will have on the east African people. “From an economic point of view, this is quite beneficial, improving both access to global markets and boosting regional trade,” he said.
The railway has allowed a Kenya-China relationship to grow and look toward the future. In regard to the relationship, Guangyaun said, “Kenya is stepping forward…it will be a landmark project for Kenya and east Africa.” In reponse, President Kenyatta praised the Chinese for their support, and felt the Chinese are, “A true friend to Kenya.” Kenyatta pointed out how the Chinese are currently technological leaders when it comes to railway infrastructure. Kenyatta thoroughly thanks the Chinese leaders present at the launch ceremony.