KENYA has reportedly begun talks with Uganda, DR Congo and the Republic of the Congo to build a standard-gauge railway connecting the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic.

Kenyan daily business newspaper Business Daily Africa reports Kenyan president, Dr William Ruto, as stating that discussions are geared towards each of the four countries building a 1000km network across its territory.

Uganda has made progress in laying the groundwork for its section, while Nairobi is in discussion with Kinshasa on options to secure funds for its stretch, Ruto said.

Tanzania also recently reached a deal with Chinese contractors to extend its standard gauge railway (SGR) to Burundi, which will subsequently connect to the DRC, rivalling Kenya’s SGR.

“As countries, we are prepared to work together,” Ruto told government and private sector leaders at a forum on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Nairobi.

“That way, we can do our section in Kenya [while] Uganda is already working on their section. We are [also] discussing with the government of DRC to see how, together, we can get the resources to get their 1000km in DRC, connect it to the Congo River and transport our goods and products across the hinterland of Africa.”

Kenya existing 700km SGR network runs between Mombasa and Suswa near Naivasha and was built by China for an estimated cost of $US 3.75bn.

The line from Nairobi was initially planned to run to the Ugandan border at Malaba but terminated at Suswa after China demanded that Uganda commit to constructing its section before Beijing released funding for the entire phase.

Uganda said earlier this month that it had secured funds for the SGR line from the Standard Chartered Bank, with the project set to be built by an undisclosed Turkish company.

“What I want to assure you is that come August, you will see the construction of SGR on our land,” Uganda’s minister for Works, Mr Fred Byamukama, said earlier in May.

Tanzania and Burundi last month launched a tender for design and construction of about 282km of SGR as part of the wider cross-border line, which is planned to pass through DRC. This came after Tanzania inked a $US 2.2bn deal with two Chinese contractors in December 2022 under which the final section of the 2102km SGR will be completed by 2026.

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