#NCIP SUMMIT IN NAIROBI PUTS #KAMPALA UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT
(Posted 02nd July 2018)
Some level of frustration can be sensed from various media releases and comments made by usually well informed individuals about the progress, or non progress, of one of the NCIP’s main projects, the SGR, short for Standard Gauge Railway from the Kenyan border to Kampala and on to Kigali.
That at least was the plan in 2014 when the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya launched their ‘Coalition of the Willing‘ to fasttrack infrastructure developments and other projects without having to wait for the ‘unwilling‘ to say yes, a word perhaps not even in their vocabulary.
With Kenya completing the SGR stretch from Mombasa to Nairobi ahead of schedule and the second segment from Nairobi to Naivasha also reportedly ahead of schedule already, is it only a matter of time before the Kenyan SGR reaches Kisumu and at that stage will the Ugandan government be required to have their stretch from Kampala to the Kenyan border also ready to link up at a point near Malaba.
Meanwhile has Rwanda, clearly still in fast track mode, signed a deal to link Kigali with the Central Corridor SGR railway line from Dar es Salaam via Dodoma to Isaka, a project arguably completed well ahead of the Ugandan railways line which under the initial plans was due to connect Kampala, via Mirama Hill, to Kigali and open a direct rail link to the port of Mombasa. This puts the onus on Uganda to equally fasttrack the rail projects and live up to their side of the tripartite bargain.
It is understood that while the Ugandan financing deal was almost complete two years ago, a major design change then came into play, adding the new routes to Gulu and Pakwach and via Gulu into South Sudan, alongside plans to also restore a rail link to Kasese from where Eastern Congo is within easy reach. This blew the top off the previous financing deal, suddenly requiring a multiple of the between 2 to 3 billion US Dollars the Kenya border to Kampala stretch is expected to cost and making new negotiations necessary, including having South Sudan on board which at this time is arguably too broke to be much good for billion dollar credits.
Kenya has reportedly made a case for urgently concluding the financing of the SGR project for Uganda and South Sudan, both countries of course depending on the rail link but also road links to Mombasa, the fastest route for exports to the sea and for imports to the hinterland countries.
As always only time will tell how this plays out and all eyes will be on the China Africa Summit in September when no doubt some tough negotiations will take place.