AfDB releases Sh25bn for Northern Corridor

Plans to spur trade in the northern border through improved infrastructure have received a boost as the African Development Bank released Sh25.4 billion to support a road project in the region.

The loan will be used to finance the second phase of the Mombasa-Nairobi-Addis Ababa road corridor project that involves the tarmacking of a 438 kilometre long road section.

One portion will include a 245 kilometre stretch linking Merille-Marsabit-Turbi on the Kenyan side while another stretch estimated at 193 kilometres will link Ageremariam-Yebelo-Mega on the Ethiopian side.

“The project aims at improving transportation between Kenya and Ethiopia for the benefit of both countries and the region. On completion, the project is expected to reduce transport and shipping costs between Kenya and Ethiopia, reduce transit time for imports and exports; and increase the volume of Ethiopian goods transiting through the Mombasa Port in Kenya,” the bank said in a statement following the approval of the loan on Wednesday.

“The development of the Mombasa-Nairobi-Addis Ababa road corridor took into account not only the construction or improvement of the road, but also the capacity expansion of the port of Mombasa, the construction of transit infrastructure facilities, and the policy and operational changes for trade and transport facilitation,” Mr Amadou Oumarou, the project team leader at AfDB said.

Comparable to other parts of the country, Northern Kenya has over the years lagged behind in terms of development because of poor roads, leaving huge business opportunities in the neighbouring Ethiopia and Somalia untapped.

Criminal gangs have also taken advantage of the poor state of infrastructure in the region to engage in banditry and cattle rustling.

Keen on reversing this trend, the government moved to line up several projects in the region including a planned construction of a second port in Lamu and tarmacking of roads through the area so as to improve cross border trade.

“By linking Kenya and Ethiopia, the project will affect the whole of eastern Africa,” AfDB said.

Ethiopia, as a landlocked country, relies on neighbouring states for its sea freight.

The Ethiopian foreign trade flows currently depend on the Port Sudan Corridor in Sudan which is about 1,900 kilometres long. The Mombasa port corridor in Kenya is 2,067 kilometres and the Assab Port – Massawa Port 882 km.

Estimates showed that about 90 per cent of Ethiopia’s current traffic of over 3.2 million metric tonnes goes through Djibouti even though its sea freight is fast growing as the economy becomes revitalized and projected to grow to about 4 million metric tonnes by 2010.

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