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China, Kenya sign co-financing deal on East African railway

Premier Li Keqiang wrapped up his three-day visit to Kenya on May 11, 2014. There, he witnessed the signing of a deal to build a railway linking the capital Nairobi with the country’s second biggest city, Mombassa.

Addressing the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on May 8, Premier Li Keqiang said China would help boost the construction of infrastructure to promote interconnectivity in Africa. That includes building a high-speed railway network, an expressway network and an African aviation system.

On May 11, Premier Li, together with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir oversaw the signing of the Mombassa-Nairobi railway deal. The first phase of the standard gauge railway project will cover 609 kilometers from the Indian Ocean port city of Mombassa to Nairobi, and will cost about $3.6 billion. Ninety percent of the financing will come from China Exim Bank.

Premier Li thanked the government leaders and officials for their presence in person, saying it showed they fully support the construction of a railway network in East Africa.

Noting the importance of transport infrastructure for a nation’s development, Li said China is ready to share its technologies and experience, step up personnel training, and inject capital to improve interconnectivity in the continent.

The Premier said the railway project is a starting point for sub-regional cooperation to advance interconnectivity in East Africa and Africa as a whole. He said African countries require strong infrastructure support, and China has the ability to meet this need. Li said China will provide well-designed plans and high-quality equipment, putting more emphasis on expanding local employment and sharing managerial expertise.

Premier Li said cooperation between China and African countries will benefit a combined population of 2 billion people and substantially change the pattern of global development.

Kenyan President Uhuru said the signing of the deal will connect Kenya and the region and open up trade. He said the construction of the Mombassa-Nairobi railway will have a profound impact on promoting interconnectivity. Uhuru said with a reliable and sincere friend like China, African countries can achieve their ambitions for national development and bring more well-being to their people.