Kenya, France agree to boost co-operation in development projects

Thursday, January 26th, 2023 08:50 | By
President William Ruto with his host President Emmanuel Macron in France on Tuesday, January 24, 2023. PHOTO/State House

Kenya and France have agreed to enhance their co-operation in developmental projects. They have also undertaken to diversify and harness existing business opportunities between them. In a meeting between President William Ruto and Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Tuesday, the two leaders admitted to further co-operation in peace and security in the East African region.

They acknowledged that Kenya and France enjoy warm and cordial historical relations that continue to grow.

“This has manifested through sustained cooperation in areas of trade, energy, health, water, infrastructure, agriculture, among others,” said President Ruto who was in France for a one-day visit before progressing to Senegal for a food fete.

Fertiliser production

During a two-hour lunch, the President expressed a desire to see more French involvement in his development agenda, especially in Agriculture and fertiliser production, even as they took stock of projects they discussed when Macron visited Kenya in 2019.

Kenya is on the throes of a severe drought due to failure of rains for five consecutive planting seasons, a development that has affected an estimated 18.8 million people who now require emergency food supply.

To mitigate against the drought and achieve food security, the President, in his October 20, 2022 Mashujaa day speech said his administration will build at least 100 water reservoirs over the next five years through public private partnership (PPP), with a target of irrigating 566,560 hectares of land in a

Kenya hopes to enlist the services of companies like Sogea and Vinci, among others in building the new dams.

Stock of projects

The two leaders are also said to have taken stock of projects they discussed during Macron’s visit to Kenya in 2019, including the Nairobi-Mau Summit highway which was initiated by former president Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration.

The $1.73 billion (Sh215 billion current exchange rate) deal was signed in 2019, but had been put on the back-burner by President Ruto. Construction of the 233km toll road was to start in September 2021.

A consortium of three French firms including Vinci Highways SAS, Meridian Infrastructure Africa Fund and Vinci Concessions SAS, were ready to start the project after receiving financial backing from the African Development Bank  and the World Bank.

However, press reports indicated that the Kenya Kwanza administration developed tender feet for fear that the project was too expensive and would roll back the economy of President Ruto’s Rift Valley backyard. The consortium was expected to recoup its investments in 30 years by charging toll fees to motorists.

          – Noel Wandera

More on Business