Kenya And South Sudan Commit To Joint Infrastructure Projects

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir visited Nairobi on 19 August.

By Sneha A on
29th August 2023

Kenya’s President William Ruto held talks with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir in Nairobi on 19 August, with the two heads of state agreeing to pursue joint infrastructure projects to enhance regional integration and boost trade.

The two leaders signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the establishment of a fibre-optic cable along the 945km Eldoret-Juba Road that connects the two countries.

They also agreed to complete the construction of the 11km Nadapal-Nakodok Road, which is part of the wider Eastern Africa Regional Transport, Trade and Development Facilitation Project. The project includes the construction of a KES38 billion (US$266.6 million) 338km road from Lokichar in northern Kenya to Nakodok on the South Sudan border.

During the meeting, President Ruto reaffirmed Kenya's commitment to the estimated US$29 billion Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) megaproject, which involves building an infrastructure corridor between the three East African countries.

"This is instrumental in supporting bilateral trade," he said, explaining that the project will enhance connectivity, further integration and boost intra-regional trade for shared prosperity.

Lapsset corridor project map
LAPSSET corridor project map
​​​​​​Source: Lappset Corridor Development Authority

The LAPSSET project has two key elements: a 500 metre-wide infrastructure corridor, featuring road networks, a standard-gauge railway, oil pipelines, and power transmission infrastructure and the Lamu deep-sea port; and an economic corridor spanning 50km on either side of the infrastructure corridor where projects such as airports, resort cities and a refinery will be developed. 

Lapsset corridor components
Lapsset corridor key components
​​​​​​Source: Kenya Ports Authority

In early August, a delegation led by Ethiopia's Minister for Transport and Logistics, Alemu Sime visited Kenya for a tour of the megaproject’s key components. 

Sime and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Roads and Transport, Murkomen Kipchumba, agreed to fully operationalise and utilise the LAPSSET corridor, including the completion of pending road sections and the equipping of Lamu port in southern Kenya.

The two countries have since agreed to establish a joint corridor management committee spearheaded by the LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority (LCDA) and Ethiopia Maritime Authority.

A major element of the LAPSSET corridor is the planned development of a standard-gauge railway running from Lamu to Isiolo within Kenya, Isiolo to Juba in South Sudan, Isiolo to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, and Nairobi to Isiolo within Kenya. 

According to LCDA, the total cost to construct the railway is about US$7.1 billion. The feasibility study and preliminary designs were completed in 2017.

Bloomberg reported in late August that Kenya plans to begin construction of the railway in 2025 and the government is hoping to raise US$9 million for the detailed engineering studies from an African Union infrastructure fund. 

Top photo: Presidents Ruto and Kiir (Source: Government of Kenya)

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