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Tunis, 21 November 2007 – In line with its growing emphasis on infrastructure development, the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group will support the improvement of the Nairobi-Thika highway project in Kenya following the approval of a loan and a grant totaling 121 million Units of Account (UA*) equivalent to US$ 190.2 million, by the Board of Directors of the African Development Fund (ADF), the concessional window of the Bank Group, on Wednesday in Tunis.
The loan of 117.85 million UA (US$185.25 million) and grant of 3.15 UA (US$4.95 million) will be used to finance the entire foreign currency and part of the local currency costs of the road improvement project.
The project aims at improving road transport services along the Nairobi-Thika corridor and enhancing urban mobility within the metropolitan area by reducing traffic congestion. It will contribute to the development of a sustainable urban public transit system for the Nairobi Metropolitan Area as well as promote private sector participation in the management, operation, and financing of road infrastructure in Kenya. The overall goal of the project is to improve the accessibility, affordability, and reliability of the transport infrastructure system in order to promote economic growth and socio-economic development in Kenya as well as contribute to regional integration in the eastern and horn of Africa regions.
The project has the following components:
"The project was conceived comprehensively to address not only the Nairobi-Thika corridor but also the growing need for a gradual shift to mass transit systems such as Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail Transit to address the current Public Transportation crisis in the city and cope with future developments" said Amadou Oumarou, Transportation Engineer and Task Team Leader for the project.
The potential project beneficiaries will be predominantly the people living along the route engaged in various economic activities, especially commuters who work in secondary and tertiary sectors in the Central Business District. The majority of commuters use public transportation especially small minibuses (Matatus) which account for more than 30% of traffic congestion in the city. According to Juste Rwamabuga, the Transport Sector Manager, "The implementation of this project will literally transform the face of Nairobi city and guide the urbanization process by contributing to the redistribution of urban functions and workplaces".
Over 89,500 people residing in Kasarani, Kiambu and Thika are on wage employment and another 125,000 are in the informal sector the majority of whom have to commute to Nairobi. Other distinct groups of commuters are students, health patients, shoppers and traders (formal and informal). With a secondary school enrolment rate of over 60% at least 12,000 students would potentially benefit from the road. In addition, 2 public universities are established along the road, Kenyatta University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agricultural Technology (JKUAT).
Between these two universities are approximately 11,990 students who attend part-time programs (49% women) and who will greatly benefit from an efficient transportation system.
The estimated cost of the project is UA 175.10 million. The ADF loan will finance 69% of the project while the Kenyan government takes charge of the remaining 54.10 million UA, representing 31% of the costs. "This project financed to the tune of US$190 million is the largest single operation ever financed by the concessionary arm of the Bank, the ADF" noted Gilbert Mbesherubusa, AfDB Director for Infrastructure. "It is a clear signal that the Bank Group is engaged in a new direction which put emphasis on infrastructure, selectivity, and bigger size operations" he added.
The AfDB Group began operations in Kenya in 1967. The Bank’s cumulative commitments in the country currently stand at US$ 1.3 billion in 88 operations.
* 1 UA = 1.57188 US$ = 102669 KES as at 21/11/2007