Kenya Unveils Ambitious $13.8 Billion Electric Railway Project Connecting Lamu to Ethiopia and South Sudan
Kenya has unveiled an ambitious plan to initiate construction in 2025 of a cutting-edge high-speed electric railway, envisaging a $13.8 billion project that will link its Indian Ocean port of Lamu to key destinations in Ethiopia and South Sudan.
This strategic move aims to enhance regional connectivity, bolster economic growth, and provide an alternative transport corridor to landlocked countries.
Connecting Diverse Economies
The proposed high-speed electric railway is set to span an impressive 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles), stretching from Lamu to the central Kenyan town of Isiolo. From there, the railway will branch out into three directions, leading to the capital cities of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Juba in South Sudan, and Nairobi in Kenya Unveils . The ambitious initiative is spearheaded by the Lapsset Corridor Development Authority, the entity responsible for overseeing the comprehensive project.
Viable Economic Prospects
Backed by a projected economic internal rate of return exceeding 12%, the proposed high-speed electric railway holds significant promise for economic growth and development. The Lapsset Corridor Development Authority has expressed confidence in the proposal’s viability, indicating that it will attract investments and stakeholders. In pursuit of comprehensive feasibility and engineering studies, Kenya Unveils is securing $9 million from an African Union infrastructure fund, a critical step toward materializing the project.
Pan-African Integration and Growth
Recognized as a priority project by the African Union, the high-speed electric railway is an integral component of the broader Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor initiative. This pan-African endeavour aims to connect nations with a collective economic output of $233 billion and a population of approximately 200 million people. The project is poised to strengthen economic ties and spur growth across the region.
Enhancing Connectivity and Trade
The proposed single-track rail will play a pivotal role in reducing Ethiopia’s dependency on Eritrean Red Sea ports, as well as Djibouti, for its trade activities. Additionally, the railway will offer South Sudan an alternative to Port Sudan, thereby fostering diversified trade routes and reducing logistical bottlenecks. Anticipated cargo-handling demand from Ethiopia and South Sudan underscores the strategic importance of the railway, projecting 29 million tons of cargo and 700,000 passengers by 2030.
Future Outlook and Integration
The envisioned extensions to the capitals of Ethiopia and Kenya are forecasted to be completed within five years, with subsequent work on the link to South Sudan set to commence thereafter. The comprehensive project envisions completion by 2040, paving the way for enhanced connectivity, economic growth, and development in the East African region. The Isiolo-Nairobi branch will seamlessly integrate the Lapsset corridor with an existing 500-kilometer railway between Mombasa and Naivasha.
In summary, Kenya’s grand vision of a high-speed electric railway underscores its commitment to fostering regional connectivity, enhancing trade, and realizing the full potential of the Lapsset Corridor’s transformative impact.
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