March 19 2019

New Kenya railway, France in €2bn infrastructure diplomacy push

Source: Concrete Trends

French companies will build a new railway in Kenya and operate a motorway there following a visit by President Emmanuel Macron aimed at boosting France’s exports to East Africa. Construction giant Vinci will be involved in the motorway concession.

Macron and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta witnessed the signing of contracts worth more than €2bn during the visit, the first by a French president since Kenya’s independence from Britain in 1963.

In a move that will be seen as a challenge to China’s dominance in the provision of infrastructure in the region, Macron said France wants commercial relationships that are “much more fair and profitable for the Kenyan people”, reports French news agency RFI.

Macron added French investment would respect Kenya’s sovereignty and would be “sustainable”.

Contracts between unnamed French companies and Kenya include building a railway from Nairobi to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, a trip of about 20 km that can take up to two hours by car, said RFI.

It should be operational by 2021, and would “will help completely transform the lives of millions of urban workers”, said President Kenyatta during the visit on Wednesday, 13 March.

A consortium led by Vinci also secured a 30-year concession worth €1.6bn to improve and operate a highway between Nairobi and Mau, now a clogged and dangerous stretch of road relied upon by freighters.

Another consortium led by Airbus won a €200m contract for coastal and maritime surveillance, and renewables firm Voltalia sealed a €70m euro contract for two solar power plants.