The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) has agreed to avail $572.8-million in debt funding for a key highway project in Kenya.
Kenya Transport principal secretary Irungu Nyakera says the funds are already available for the 580 km Lamu-Garissa–Isiolo highway, which forms part of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) project, an infrastructure development that is one of the flagship projects comprising the Vision 2030 master plan.
Bush clearing is scheduled to start in May, paving the way for major works. The project is expected to last about four years.
The highway will be one of the Lapsset highways that will connect Ethiopia and South Sudan to the Lamu port, on the Kenyan coast, which is currently under construction.
Besides the highways and the port, the Lapsset project, which will be implemented at a cost of $2-trillion, also includes railways, a crude oil pipeline, an oil refinery, airports and resort centres.
Lapsset is Africa’s biggest infrastructure project and has been touted as a game changer in terms of spurring economic development in Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
In Kenya alone, the project is expected to add 2% to gross domestic product growth a year when completed. In particular, it is expected to open up Kenya’s northern frontier for more trade and investment. Currently, nearly the entire region, which covers the Lapsset corridor, plays a minimal role in the economy.
The decision by the DBSA to finance the highway project, in addition to being the lead arranger of $1.9-billion in financing for other Lapsset projects, follows a State visit to Kenya by South African President Jacob Zuma in October.
During the visit, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding concerning the development of the Lapsset corridor projects.
The DBSA is wholly owned by the South African government and has arranged funding for projects in the transport, energy, water and information and communication technology sectors across Africa.