International lenders have agreed loans and grants totalling over €764m ($837.6m) to build transport infrastructure linking Kenya and Tanzania in order to boost trade in east Africa.
The road and bridge projects will eventually benefit 3 million people in the region as farmers, manufacturers and traders get improved access to local markets and ports in the two countries, said one of the lenders, the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The road project, planned in stages, will run near the Indian Ocean coast from the Kenyan port metropolis of Mombasa south to the Tanzanian port of Bagomoyo, a distance of about 440km.
Last week (13 December), AfDB said it had approved a €345m loan for phase one of that project, which involves building 175km of road sections: the 121km Mkanga-Pangani road in Tanzania and the 54km Mombasa-Kilifi road in Kenya.
The European Union gave the Kenyan government a grant of €30m for the project, whose total cost is €399.7m, AfDB said.
Complementing the road corridor, meanwhile, will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in Africa linking Mombasa Island, site of Mombasa old town and the deepwater port, over Kilindi Harbour south to the mainland at Likoni.
AfDB says this bridge, called Mombasa Gate Bridge, is a "critical link" in the road corridor. It’s first phase is being financed mostly by Japan.
Last week, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the government of Kenya signed a $440m (€389.6m) funding agreement for the first phase of the bridge’s construction.
In time, AfDB and JICA will co-finance the project, with total funding expected to be more than $1.2bn. AfDB said it would be the largest co-financing agreement ever between it and JICA.
Taken together, the contributions from AfDB, EU and JICA total €764.6m.
Speaking of the road project, AfDB’s regional sector manager Hussein Iman said: "The project will have spillover benefits for hinterland countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan that depend on Mombasa as gateway to global markets."
Image: The Mombasa Gate Bridge will cross from Mombasa Island to the mainland at Likoni, relieving pressure on the ferry, shown here in 2017 (Photograph by Jean Louis/CC BY-SA 4.0)