News / Economy

China, East African Leaders Sign Up for New Rail Link

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta applaaChinese Premier Li Keqiang and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta applaud the signing of the Standard Gauge Railway agreement at the State House in Nairobi, May 11, 2014.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta applaaChinese Premier Li Keqiang and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta applaud the signing of the Standard Gauge Railway agreement at the State House in Nairobi, May 11, 2014.
Reuters
East African leaders and China formally signed agreements on Sunday related to the construction of a new multi-billion dollar railway to run from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to Nairobi and on to neighboring states.

The deals were signed in Nairobi on the last stage of an Africa tour by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, although Kenya's president, Uhuru Kenyatta, had already signed up to the deal during his state visit to Beijing last year.

"The costs of moving our people and our goods... across our borders will fall sharply," Kenyatta told a news conference with the Chinese and African leaders on Sunday.

The existing narrow gauge railway in Kenya was built in the 19th century and only runs to Uganda whereas the faster new line is designed to go on to Rwanda and South Sudan and is aimed at cutting the hefty costs of trade between east African nations.

Kenyatta has previously said the new railway will cut freight costs to eight U.S. cents a ton per km from 20 cents now. Journey times will also be shortened.

Work on the 609-km (380-mile) Nairobi to Mombasa stage is due to start on Oct. 1 and be completed in March 2018.

China Road and Bridge Corporation, a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company, has been appointed to construct the initial Kenyan leg of the new line, despite criticism that there was no competitive tendering for the work.

Kenyan officials said there was no public bidding because that was a condition of securing Chinese financing but some lawmakers said the deal was overpriced.

Officials previously put the price for the railway from Mombasa to Kenya's western border with Uganda at 447.5 billion Kenyan shillings ($5.1 billion), including financing costs.

China has won friends in Africa by building infrastructure across the continent, but critics grumble that it often relies on Chinese labor and is more keen on sucking in African raw materials than passing on skills.

China's premier told the news conference on Sunday that the rail construction company would ensure African workers were trained and laws adhered to.

Meanwhile Kenya signed two financing deals on Saturday with China's Eximbank, although no value was given.

The Nairobi to Mombasa stage will cost $3.6 billion, with China covering 90 percent of the financing, the Kenyan presidency said in a statement. Kenya will fund 10 percent.

Kenya has previously said China is offering a $1.6 billion commercial loan and a $1.63 billion concessional facility to help finance that section of the line.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7537
JPY
USD
103.79
GBP
USD
0.6032
CAD
USD
1.0957
INR
USD
60.522

Rates may not be current.