Kenya-Uganda SGR Construction Project to Resume

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Kenya-Uganda SGR project shall resume after Kenya and Uganda have revived a near-dead project to construct the standard gauge railway between them, in a sign of renewed efforts to improve infrastructure in the Northern Corridor to boost trade. However, the joint statement released by the two governments depends heavily on how quickly the financier shows up. It was the lack of funds that thwarted previous plans and turned the SGR into a “railway headed to nowhere”.

This time, the two transport ministers said they had resumed the joint hunt for financial support, which could include loans or a public-private partnership. If all goes well as planned, the contractor is expected to be on site by December to construct the Kenya-Uganda SGR extension from Naivasha to Kampala as soon as possible, before expanding to Uganda’s border towns with Rwanda and South Sudan.

The two governments signed an agreement to complete the joint mobilization of resources in the coming four months to fund the Naivasha-Malaba-Kampala rail and Kampala-Kasese-Mpondwe routes with a branch line from Bihanga to the Mirama Hills.

Also read:AfDB to Finance Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Project in Tanzania

Mr Murkomen, the Cabinet Secretary in Charge of Ministry of Transport in Kenya , said they have already submitted their offers to various lenders in Europe and the Middle East who are willing to show interest in investing. Such a project was actually planned 8 years ago, but failed because Uganda and Kenya did not receive any funding from China. The Kenya-Uganda SGR railway line, which ran from the Malaba border post between Uganda and Kenya, was expected to cost approximately $2.2 billion, but Chinese financiers failed to fund the project because they doubted Kenya’s SGR would reach the border to connect with Uganda’s and make the project profitable. Funding depended on a joint bid that both countries failed to submit.

In 2019, the then-Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, on his fourth trip to China, failed to secure $3.68 billion to fund the third phase of his proprietary Kenya-Uganda SGR project, which would include extension to Kisumu and then Malaba. Instead, Kenya got around $400 million to modernize its 120-year-oldrail line to Malaba on the Uganda border.

Kenya-Uganda SGR Project Cost

The projected cost of the entire Kenya-Uganda SGR project is estimated to be KSh 700 billion (equivalent to US$7 billion), and the construction was planned to be carried out in several phases. However, as of the present, only the Nairobi–Naivasha section has been completed, with its inauguration taking place on 16th October 2019. The following phases, which include the Naivasha–Kisumu Section and the Kisumu–Malaba Section, were intended to be executed subsequently, effectively establishing the Kenya Standard Gauge Railway System.

The Kenya-Uganda SGR is a significant project aimed at constructing a standard-gauge railway connecting Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi to Malaba, situated at the international border with Uganda. The primary objective of the Kenya-Uganda SGR is to enhance railway connectivity between Kenya and neighboring countries, including Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, as part of the broader East African Railway Master Plan.

As of the end of 2022, the prospects for further extension of the standard gauge railway from Naivasha in the Rift Valley appear uncertain, casting doubt on the project’s completion in the near future.