By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
May 6, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - The African Development Bank (AfDB) has granted a total fund of US$12 million to assist in the execution of a road as part of the Lamu port project.
- Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki (C) flanked by his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir (R) and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (L) attend the inauguration ceremony of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia (LAPSSET) project in Lamu March 2, 2012 (Retuers)
The grant funds will go towards the road component of a massive regional project known as the Lamu-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET).
The 800-kilometre road which will stretche from Lamu, Kenya to Lokichoggio, Ethiopia will be completed in 18 months, according to AfDB officials.
“They have to go down on the ground and mark out the road,” George Makajuma, the infrastructure specialist at the AfDB Kenya country office said.
The US$24 billion LAPSSET Corridor project, which will link Kenya with its neighbours Ethiopia and South Sudan, also incorporates a railway line and an oil pipeline.
According to the project plan report, the initial costs of the infrastructure will be shared among the governments of Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
In March, Kenyan president, Mwai Kibaki, Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, and South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, jointly launched the construction of the super-port and transport network project.
During the ceremony held in Kenya’s eastern coastal town of Lamu, the East African leaders said the project will play an important role in regional integrity and ease the export burden on land-locked countries like Ethiopia and South Sudan.
One of the sticking points which has seen Juba and Khartoum take up arms once again, after the failure of the mediation efforts of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel, is the use of the pipeline which carries South Sudanese oil through its northern neighbour’s territory to the coast.
The pressure is on Juba to release the economic stranglehold which Khartoum currently has over it, by finding an alternative pipeline. During Kiir’s visit to China in April calls for funding for a pipeline received a lukewarm response from Beijing.
LAPSSET, which it is hoped will be strategically and economically important for the region is expected be completed by 2016.
The Lamu project is also expected to link the three countries to west and central Africa, benefiting an estimated 160 million people