Bank approves loan for $1.5bn Rift Valley Highway in Kenya

Traders selling their wares at a roadside market at the Rift Valley highway in Timboroa (Joshua Wanyama/
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved financing a $150m loan to part-fund the upgrading of a 190km stretch of Kenya’s Rift Valley Highway, one of the busiest roads in east Africa.

The $1.5bn project is being carried out by the “Rift Valley Connect” consortium, which includes French contractors Vinci Construction and Vinci Highways, and Paris-based investor Meridiam.

The public–private partnership contract was signed in September 2020, during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to France in 2020. Under its terms, Rift Valley Connect will design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the expressway for 30 years, in return for tolls collected by Vinci Concessions.

The upgrade will turn the two-lane road between Nairobi and the town of Mau Summit into a four-lane dual carriageway. It will also rehabilitate a 60km highway between Mai Mahiu and Naivasha and set up toll stations.

The two roads form part of Kenya’s Northern Corridor which runs between the port of Mombasa and Kenya’s western neighbours, including South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Nnenna Nwabufo, the AfDB’s director general for the East Africa Region, said: “One major plus is that this project will improve the extremely poor safety record of the highway which has been identified as one of the most accident-prone in Kenya.

“In addition, direct development outcomes expected from the project include increased productivity, commercial efficiencies, and time and cost savings. Ultimately this should support economic growth and increase the quality of life of the people. “

The project is expected to take 42 months, and will generate 1,500 jobs during the construction phase. At least 40% of the materials and labour required will be supplied by Kenyan businesses.

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