Li Keqiang, the prime minister of China, has concluded his four-nation tour of Africa by announcing his country’s participation in the construction of the region’s first modern railway.Â Â
The first phase of the project will cover the 609km between the port city of Mombasa and the Kenyan capital Nairobi.Â Â
China Communications Construction will be the lead contractor on the project, and the Export Import Bank of China will provide 90% of the $3.8bn investment, Bloomberg reported. Kenya will fund the remainder of the project.
Uhuru Kenyatta, the president ofÂ Kenya, said the railway would "eventually unify all of east Africa". There are talks to extend the line from Nairobi to the Uganda capital Kampala, and later to Kigali in Rwanda and Juba in South Sudan.
Work on the project will start this October and is due to complete in March 2018. An estimated 30,000 jobs will be created.Â
Kenya is east Africa’s largest economy. At present, its rail system consists of a single-track line built by Britain early in the 20th century. The new line will be Kenya’s largest post-colonial project.Â
Mr Li also signed a framework agreement with Nigeria for the construction of a $13.1bn railway linking Port Harcourt and Lagos. This contract would also be carried out by China Communications Construction.