The African Development Bank (AfDB) said on Saturday that it will fund the construction of a highway linking Kenya and Tanzania.
African Development Bank principal transport engineer Zerfu Mammo told journalists in Nairobi that the Mwatate-Taveta-Arusha Road will help accelerate trade between the two neighbours.
"AfDB will provide funding to the tune of USD112m for the 98 kilometer portion on the Kenya side," Mammo said. And the Kenya government will provide approximately USD12m for the dual carriage road.
The pan-African bank will also fund the construction on the Tanzanian side.
Mammo said that the construction is scheduled to begin mid next year and will take three years to completion.
"We will conduct a baseline survey in order to monitor the economics of the road," he said.
According to the bank, the cost of inland transport is expensive in Africa when compared to other continents.
"We are committed to fund projects that will promote regional integration of the continent," he said.
The engineer noted that the AfDB will also be involved in the development and construction of the Nairobi's mass rapid transit that aims to reduce congestion in Kenya's rapidly growing capital city.
"Presently, the city's infrastructure cannot handle the amount of traffic and this is costing the economy," he said.
The AfDB said that it has already provided USD5m for the feasibility and design of the metropolitan transit system.
AfDB Infrastructure Specialist George Makajuma said that the project will include a light rail as well as a rapid bus system. "The intention is to involve the private sector due to the enormous nature of the project," Makajuma said.
The infrastructure specialist added that the government will concentrate on physical infrastructure while the private sector will operate the buses and locomotives. "Feasibility studies were completed last August," he said.
He noted that short-listing of consultants for the design of the eight transport corridors for the Nairobi metropolitan area is currently underway. The AfDB official added that the designs should be completed by the end of 2013.
"Actually construction could take up to ten years and will be completed in phases," he said.
AfDB has extended financial assistance of up to USD3bn since it commenced operations in Kenya in 1967.
Speaking during the launch of the Thika highway in Nairobi on Friday, AfDB President Donald Kaberuka said that this ultramodern superhighway will strongly contribute to the achievement of inclusive growth in the region by reducing the cost of doing business in Kenya.
"This road plays a critical role at several levels. It is first an important commercial and transport corridor. It is also part of the Great North Trans-African Highway (Cape Town to Cairo)," Kaberuka said.
Kaberuka reaffirmed the AfDB's strong commitment to infrastructure development on the continent. "Infrastructure promotes trade and creates a conducive environment for business," he added.
Consequently, pollution resulting from vehicle emissions has considerably fallen.
The project cost, totalling approximately USD362m, has been financed by the African Development Bank to the tune of USD180m; the Government of Kenya contributed USD80m; and the Exim Bank of China financed USD100m worth of upgrades.
The initial highway was constructed to bitumen standard in the early 1970s. The section was operating beyond capacity, carrying more than 60,000 vehicles per day.
In addition, its condition had deteriorated and required serious rehabilitation.
In order to accommodate rising traffic needs, the government sought the AfDB's assistance to finance the construction of additional lanes and the removal of at-grade intersections at several locations to be replaced by interchanges.
The Nairobi Metropolitan Area is the most dynamic engine of growth and employment creation in Kenya, accounting for more than 30 percent of the national GDP.
However, as a result of rapid urbanisation coupled with the explosive growth in motorisation, the transportation system had become inadequate and was constraining economic growth and limiting access to job opportunities, education and recreation.