By EA Trade Review Reporter
The World Bank Group has approved $500 million for the development of the transport and trade corridor in north-western Kenya and improve the livelihoods of the communities in Turkana and West Pokot counties.
The bank says the East Africa Regional Transport, Trade and Development Facilitation Project will enhance regional competitiveness by improving the movement of goods and people in Eastern Africa.
It will support upgrading of the road linking Kenya to its neighbors in the north-western border and also enhance internet connectivity between the countries and the rest of world. The project will cost an estimated $676 million, with the balance being contributed by the Kenya Government.
“Kenya has a long established transport and trade link to the north-west but the poor state of the road constrains growth opportunities along this important corridor,” says Diarietou Gaye, World Bank Country Director for Kenya.
“Enhancing connectivity to this region will improve the livelihoods of the pastoral communities in the region, enabling their people to share in the prospects for growth, poverty reduction and prosperity.”
The new project will enable Kenya to upgrade the road, Information and Communications Technologies infrastructure and road safety on the corridor and also facilitate establishment of trade and development facilities, including markets to support pastoralist communities and micro enterprise operators.
The project will support farmers, pastoralists and small business entrepreneurs along the corridor and help boost exports of agricultural, livestock, fishery and mineral products from north-western Kenya.
It will facilitate extraction of oil resources recently discovered in Turkana and help reduce the vulnerabilities of the local communities in Turkana and West Pokot that are isolated and exhibit high levels of poverty by better integrating them to the national economy.
“A better road will contribute greatly to the development of north-western Kenya and improve the connectivity of the region to regional and global markets,” said Tesfamichael Nahusenay Mitiku and Josphat Sasia, the co-Task Team Leaders of the Project.
“It will also facilitate the flow of goods and movement of people by considerably reducing transport costs and travel times from Mombasa to Juba in South Sudan, which now takes as much as five to eight days.”
The upgrading of the 309 km road section from Lokichar to Nadapal/Nakodok will be part of a major undertaking by the Governments of Kenya and South Sudan to rehabilitate 595 km of the road linking Eldoret in Kenya to Juba, South Sudan’s capital.
The South Sudan part of the project was approved in May 2014 to improve the trade and transport facilities from between Juba and Nadapal.
The upgraded road will link up to the Northern Corridor transport system and other major transport and trade corridors in the Eastern African region. It will contribute to regional integration and reduce the cost of doing business in the East African Community.