The African Continent Rallies Behind One of its Most Ambitious Construction Projects: the Standard Gauge Railway

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The African continent is rallying behind the construction of a standard gauge railway that links the East and West Coast. The ambitious project is in line with the African infrastructure network that seeks to ensure seamless connectivity. Based on the remarks offered by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Transport, this is the ultimate objective of the SGR. The standard gauge railway will connect the East Coast in Mombasa, Kenya to the West Coast in Douala, Cameroon. The implementation of the project is already taking shape with various partner states already showing interest.

The Government of Kenya recently hosted the Regional Standard Gauge Railways (SGR) Cluster Meetings for the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) in Mombasa through the Ministry of Roads and Transport. The SGR Cluster is one of 14 Clusters under the NCI Programme and was chaired by Uganda. The primary objective of the meeting was to accelerate the implementation of the SGR by the various partner states involved. This includes states such as Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Significance of the Standard Gauge Railway Linking the East Coast and the West Coast

Once completed, the standard gauge railway linking the East Coast and the West Coast will be immensely beneficial. The railway line will ensure seamless connectivity between various regions across the African continent. “The ultimate objective, under the African infrastructure network, is to make sure that we connect the East coast here in Mombasa and the West coast through Douala in Cameroon,” noted Kenya’s cabinet secretary of transport, Kipchumba Murkomen.

The cabinet secretary was also keen to note that the seamless connectivity will be implemented through Kenya’s sister countries. The railway line will facilitate the transportation sector as a supplement to road transport. Currently, most of the cargo travelling from East to West Africa places a heavy reliance on road transport. The standard gauge railway between the countries will also create special economic zones within these countries. The creation of these zones will immensely facilitate economic and social improvement in the continent.

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The Scope of Implementation of the Ambitious Project

The Standard gauge railway linking the East and West African coast seeks to start its connectivity from Kenya. The Kenyan government has already put in place measures to ensure that it is in line with the project’s implementation schedule. Kipchumba Murkomen noted that the dream of the standard gauge railway is one and in motion. “I believe that the dream of SGR is on, we want to do it expeditiously,” he noted. Kenya wants to leverage the private sector to facilitate the Naivasha-Malaba standard gauge railway construction project. The minister noted that the project, which includes a revamp of the Kisumu port will cost approximately $5.3 billion, which he says is reasonable. Its completion will now pave the way for Uganda also to continue the connectivity project to link the SGR. Other partner states are also in coordination to ensure that the construction of the railway line is fast-tracked.

The State of the Region Regarding the Project

the development of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is synchronic with the development strategies of other East African Countries. Its development is incorporated in national spatial plans with the rail route targeting regions with viable populations and sustainable economic activities. Criticisms, however, revolve around the ballooning debt to finance infrastructural development and the lack of prioritization of mega projects. The railway line will ensure seamless connectivity of various railway networks across the African continent. This is one of the aspects that makes the project dubbed as one of Africa’s most ambitious.

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