On the sidelines of the visit to France of the President of the Republic of Kenya, H.E. Mr. Uhuru KENYATTA on October 2, a financing agreement was signed for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) rural roads project, which will open up the northern rural areas of Kenya through road improvement works. The project is financed by a concessional loan of EUR 60 million from the French Development Agency (AFD) and a grant of EUR 30 million from the European Union, which will be implemented by the AFD.
The agreement was signed between Mr. Rémy RIOUX, CEO of Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Mr Ukur YATANI, Cabinet Secretary of the National Treasury of the Government of Kenya, in the presence of a representative of the European Union.
The road rehabilitation project will improve mobility and access in the six ASAL counties of Isiolo, Laikipia, Marsabit, Meru, Samburu and Tharaka-Nithi. The project involves the upgrading of 1280 km of roads to all weather standards and improving 139 km to bitumen standards. The upgraded roads will improve access to markets, schools, hospitals, security services and other government services for the local population. In addition, the improved accessibility will enable the communities to easily market their agriculture and livestock products and promote tourism.
The AFD and EU have been financing the rural roads sector in Kenya for many years. Capitalizing on the success of previous rural roads projects, the new ASAL project will be implemented by the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA). The project will use labour-based methods to upgrade the roads and has a significant capacity building component targeted at local contractors and consultants, KeRRA officers and County officers in charge of roads. The labour-based construction approach will see a significant number of jobs created for the local communities, while the use of local contractors will result in skills transfers and capacity building of the local construction industry. The roads will additionally be designed to be climate proofed, to increase resilience to climate shocks such as flooding and drought.
The rehabilitation and upgrading of road infrastructure is among the Kenyan Government’s top priorities: roads being the principal mode of transport for movement of goods and people around the country. The ASAL rural roads project is therefore a crucial development enabler for the Northern part of the country.
“The AFD group is proud to support, alongside its European partners, the ASAL Rural Roads project through a EUR 60 million loan that will contribute to reducing territorial fractures in Kenya by improving access to marginalized areas in terms of economic development. I am confident that these new resilient infrastructures will significantly improve social inclusion in the Northern part of Kenya by providing the residents of this area with new job opportunities and by facilitating the movements of people and goods around the country,” AFD CEO Rémy Rioux said.
In Nairobi, EU Ambassador Simon MORDUE said “The EU’s intervention through the ASAL Rural roads programme will enable the communities in drought-prone areas to become more resilient to drought and other effects of climate change, though improved mobility, reduced transport costs and increased trade. The roads will also increase access to local economic and social services in these marginalised areas making them safer.’’