Kenya Government Eyes Chinese Funding for Mau Summit Highway project

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Kenya is seeking funding from Chinese investors for its 184 billion shillings ($1.29 billion) Mau Summit Highway. Importantly, the highway is one of the country’s biggest road projects. Moreover, pursuit for Chinese funding follows failed talks with French investors.

A French consortium initially won the tender. However, Roads Transport Principal Secretary Joseph Mbugua revealed that the government had decided to put it on hold. Additionally, Mr Mbugua added the government found the total cost of the project to be too high. This is due to the current dynamics where Kenya is in a tight fiscal space.

The French consortium, known as Rift Valley Highway Limited, expected to recoup its investment in 30 years. Importantly, this could be achieved by charging toll fees on the road.

Mau Summit Highway Project scope

The Mau Summit Highway Project involves the dualling of the 233-kilometre highway. Roads Transport Principal Secretary Joseph Mbugua said that the government is negotiating with the contractors and financiers. Noteworthy, this may delay the project’s roll-out which has drawn financiers such as the World Bank and the African Development Fund.

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The Kenyan government initiated bilateral talks with its Chinese counterpart on completing various pending road projects. These projects include widening the 175-kilometre four-lane dual carriageway.

“We are ready to expedite discussions and conclude on details on the proposed projects for implementation,” Ruto told a high-level meeting with a Chinese official.

Additionally, the president said these projects could be pursued under public-private partnerships or government-to-government.

“China will consider the Kenya government’s priority areas of interest,” said Wang Yi, Director of the Office of Central Committee of Foreign Affairs.

Apart from the Mau Summit road project, the Kenyan government also has plans to upgrade the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Additionally, the ports of Mombasa and Lamu will also be upgraded.