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Kenyatta to commission SGR on May 31 in Mombasa

Uhuru (left) and Xi last week. China funded the SGR, and will support efforts for it to extend to Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. PHOTO PSCU

Nairobi, KENYA| PSCU| President Uhuru Kenyatta will on May 31 commission the first phase of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) that has been completed on budget, 18 months ahead of schedule.

State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said China – who provided the funds through loans that ensured the SGR was built – will be sending a senior delegation of the State Council including two ministers and one vice minister to attend the launch in Mombasa.

“China has been, in the last few years, a loyal partner in our transformational agenda particularly as relates to the development of economic physical infrastructure,” Esipisu said on Sunday during his weekly briefing at State House, Nairobi.

He said President Kenyatta is also expected to officiate at events on the container terminal at the SGR on May 30 before taking the inaugural ride from Mombasa to Nairobi on May 31.

“That ride will include a number of stops along the way to commission some of the new stations as well as to address people that are resident in some of the counties that the SGR passes through,” the State House Spokesperson said.

Esipisu said President Kenyatta strongly believes that infrastructure is at the core of development, growth and creating opportunity for young people and that is why when he was invited by President Xi Jinping to visit Beijing for an infrastructure conference last week, he gladly accepted.

Kenyatta inspects construction of the SGR last year

At the Beijing conference, Kenyatta reached agreement on new partnerships with China, which are expected to further support the development of critical infrastructure in the country and beyond.

Some of that agreement included support for funding from China’s Exim Bank for the next phase of the SGR that will take it from Naivasha to Kisumu and the rebuilding of a modern port in that city.

Esipisu said the construction of the next phase of the SGR and the port of Kisumu will bring the much-needed jobs for the country’s young people.

“It is important to note that this construction and the port of Kisumu will bring the much needed, much talked about, much desired jobs that are on everyone’s mind but foremost on the mind of the President as he has some mandate to do everything he can to ensure that our young people get as many jobs as there are – and quality jobs at that,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, the State House Spokesperson said Kenyatta will later in the week head to Taormina, Italy, to attend the 43rd G7 summit where he has been invited to speak specifically on ‘the timeliness and challenges brought about by innovation as a factor of economic growth and development in Africa’.

“This is a massive recognition of the strides that Kenya is making, Kenya has made, in the tech area for which we are now a recognised leader on our continent,” Esipisu said.

Besides Kenya, other African countries invited to represent the interests of the continent at the 43rd G7 summit in Italy are Ethiopia, Tunisia and Nigeria.

Esipisu said Kenyatta will use the high-level profile event to showcase Kenya’s achievements over time and also show Africa’s interest in a way that is readily digestible on the global stage.

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