NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – Kenya plans to spend some Sh360 billion in infrastructure projects over the next five years positioning itself as the gateway to the East and Central Africa region.
President Mwai Kibaki told an Investor Conference in Nairobi on Tuesday that his administration would spend an ambitious Sh72 billion annually on such development work.
“We are fully aware that poor infrastructure remains a major constraint for investors. For this reason, my Government is investing substantial resources to upgrade the road network in order to make it easier and cheaper to produce goods and distribute them within the country,” he said.
At the meeting in Nairobi, the Head of State said Kenya’s competitiveness and connectivity to the world’s top financial centres will be upgraded by the imminent arrival of undersea fibre optic cables. “This will give us faster and cheaper internet connectivity with the rest of the world,” he told government representatives and international financiers.
The inaugural two-day Euromoney International Investment Conference opened in Kenya’s capital on Tuesday modelled on a western forum popular in Central and Eastern Europe.
The Kenya version of that conference has brought together policymakers, business leaders and the international investment community to discuss key sectors such as Banking & Finance, Telecommunications & IT, Infrastructure, Tourism and Agriculture.
“We are also investing heavily in connectivity to the leading business centres of the world in Europe, North America, and Asia by attracting more international airlines to Kenya,” the President said wooing investors.
The announcement on heavy investment came a day after Trade Minister Amos Kimunya said while the government must cut down on unnecessary expenditure in the face of the global credit crunch; it could hardly afford to scale back on crucial development projects.
The government has admitted to a Sh25 billion national budget deficit.
As President Kibaki pitched ‘Brand Kenya’ to the international community, he added that regionally the country remains a responsible neighbour with the benefits of her development spilling across the border.
Said he: “We have together with the government of Uganda unveiled a plan to build a standard gauge rail line from the Port of Mombasa to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. This plan is set to eventually establish a rail network inter-linking Kenya with the Great Lakes region, Southern Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Plans for a second port in Lamu and a road and rail network linking that port through northern Kenya to Ethiopia and Sudan are also underway.