East Africa – Chasing Kenya’s SGR Success

The Mombasa-Nairobi section of the railway line has halved travel time between the country’s two biggest cities. Leaders urge other countries to follow suit

Regional heads of state meeting in Nairobi have “lauded the completion and commissioning of [the] Mombasa-Nairobi section of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in 2017 which is already transporting [an] increasing number of passengers and cargo,” reported Capital FM.

The 14th Summit on the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP), hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta, was attended by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, while South Sudan was represented by special envoy Aggrey Tisa Sabuni.

The Northern Corridor is a multimodal trade route linking the landlocked countries of the Great Lakes Region with the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa.

The SGR is supposed to connect Mombasa to the Rwandan capital Kigali via Uganda. The preliminary engineering design for the new line from Kampala (Uganda) to Kigali was completed in January.

The Chinese-built Mombasa-Nairobi section of some 480km has attained an occupancy rate of over 95% while reducing the time between Kenya’s two biggest cities by half to five hours, noted Chinese news agency Xinhua. An estimated 1.3m Kenyans have commuted between Nairobi and Mombasa by the SGR train since its launch in May 2017.

John Luk Jok, the South Sudanese Minister of Transport, agreed that there is great progress in the Northern Corridor improvement process, noting that the issue of financing however remains the biggest challenge.

Elaborating on improvements to trade within the East African Community bloc (EAC), Peter Munya, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for the EAC, said manufacturers have been enabled to set up factories across various towns served by the railway line because it is easy to load manufactured goods and offload raw materials.

Munya said the second phase of the SGR will be completed in June 2019.

mombasa terminus
Image: Capital FM

Ministers in charge of implementing the NCIP now have until September to conclude financing agreements for  the Naivasha-Kisumu (Kenya), Kisumu-Malaba, (Kenya) and Malaba-Kampala (Kenya-Uganda) sections of the SGR.

The summit also directed that the application for financing of the Kampala-Bihanga-Mirama-Kigali and Tororo-Gulu-Nimule/Gulu-Pakwach sections be expedited, according to Kenya’s Daily Nation

President Paul Kagame meanwhile called for increased partnership between players across the region to fast-track the development of citizens The New Times.

In their final joint communiqué, the East African leaders reaffirmed their commitment to advancing regional integration while underscoring the importance of accelerating socio-economic transformation, industrialisation and job creation.

To ease the circulation of petroleum products in the region, the leaders agreed to come up with ‘the Lake Victoria intermodal transport system’ pending consultations on re-scoping of a refined petroleum products pipeline.

Further, the leaders agreed to allocate more funding for the development of centres of excellence to support creation of requisite human resource capacities for the implementation of NCIP projects.

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Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

AIRPORTS AND SERVICES: Single African Air Transport Market
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 55, Issue 4

EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY: Heads of State Retreat
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 55, Issue 2

UGANDA: Infrastructure Projects Criticised
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 55, Issue 1

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