Kenya reaps real BRI dividends

By EDITH MUTETHYA in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily | Updated: 2023-05-26 09:56
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A freight train runs on the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway track in Mombasa on July 27, 2022. WANG TENG/XINHUA

He said the expansion of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has also helped Kenya better serve its regional and global airline partners, further bolstering its position as a regional transportation hub.

"The BRI has really contributed to Kenya's regional competitiveness and it has opened up opportunities for trade, economic partnerships and financial inclusion."

Adhere said Nairobi, being a regional financial center with Chinese financial institutions in partnership with their Kenyan counterparts, can also benefit the entire region.

Nationally, he said demand for the SGR, one of BRI's flagship projects, has increased significantly, with many cargo companies opting to use the railway because it is predictable, reliable and faster to move goods from Mombasa to Nairobi, especially for hinterland companies.

The Africa Star Railway Operations Company, the operator of the SGR, added both first-class and economy passenger coaches from April 19 to May 9 to cater to the increasing demand during the closing and opening of schools.

Gerishon Ikiara, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi's School of Diplomacy and International Studies, said that were it not for China, Kenya would not have had the SGR.

Ikiara, who was the permanent secretary when Kenya signed an agreement with the Chinese government for the construction of the railway, said they had struggled to get a financier for the project.

He said most of the lenders were very expensive and set out stringent terms. China, on the other hand, was flexible in negotiations.

"The railway has provident efficient transportation along the northern corridor and has reduced travel time for both passengers and cargo," Ikiara said.

For many years, the government was also looking for an investor to construct an expressway under a public-private partnership model, he said.

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