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Mombasa-Nairobi Kenya Standard Gauge Railway
shows steady156 per cent growth in cargo volume

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) freight service shipped 197,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers in the first half of 2019, a 155.8 percent growth in cargo over the corresponding period in 2018 when it shipped 77,020 TEU containers, the operator of the SGR said.

Dai Yunjie, spokesperson for Africa Star which operates the SGR service, attributed the expansion in volumes to an aggressive marketing strategy targeting importers and exporters in Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo, to use the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR freight services as their preferred logistics partner.

"We have also set up our marketing team and provided practical and feasible advice to Kenya Railways Corporation and relevant authorities for incremental freight transportations." Dai said in a statement issued on Monday evening.

According to Africa Star, the passenger traffic in the first six months of 2019 was similar to the number ferried in the corresponding period last year.


Kenya’s extended modern railways revitalize construction sector: report

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The construction of Nairobi-Naivasha Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has boosted the growth of Kenya’s construction sector in the first quarter of 2019, says a report released on Wednesday.

According to the report by Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK), the construction sector expanded by 5.6 percent in the first three months of 2019 thanks to implementation of the 120km-long modern railway project.

"It is key to note that this growth was supported by the construction of phase 2A of the SGR and other public infrastructure developments especially road construction," said the report dubbed Status of the Built Environment.

The report summarized key features in the built environment in the months of January to June this year.

The first phase of the SGR project connects Nairobi to the port city of Mombasa while phase 2A of the modern railway line connecting Nairobi to the resort town of Naivasha is almost complete.

The study findings indicate that a number of infrastructure projects are in the pipeline and are being undertaken and financed by China and could contribute to the growth of the construction sector, including

the 51 billion Kenyan shilling (488 million U.S. dollars) Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), and

Westlands Expressway project that will be constructed and funded by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), through a private-public partnership (PPP) framework that will see the firm fund the project and later recoup its investment from toll fees.

It said that the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has already announced the start of the construction of the 16.7km western bypass located on the outskirts of Nairobi that includes 17.4km service lanes, seven interchanges, five underpasses and three footbridges.

"The project is financed by the Exim Bank of China and is being undertaken by the CRBC, at a cost of 163 million dollars," said the study.

It noted that CRBC is also set to secure a 23.9 million dollars contract to refurbish the Nairobi commuter railway network.

"The Nairobi commuter railway track is part of the 95.9 million dollars fund set aside to ease traffic congestion in Nairobi, and is aimed at facilitating the operation of 11 second-hand locomotives, 20 halts, the refurbishment of mini stations in the city such as the Kitengela railway station, upgrading of the Ruiru, Kikuyu, Syokimau and Embakasi lines and the Nairobi central station," said the report.

It said that Kenya seeks to construct houses under the affordable housing scheme in order to reduce the country’s housing deficit especially for the low-income segment of the population.

It revealed that the residential real estate sector also recorded an increase in activities in the first six months of 2019 and were mainly driven by the government’s focus on the affordable housing agenda.

"However, inadequate infrastructure provision including roads and sewer systems within the interior parts of these satellite towns have been the main inhibitor to the fast growth of master-planned communities," said the report.


Kenya export processing zones sales to hit U.S. $866 million dollars in 2019

by Ronald Njoroge NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Sales made by companies based in Kenya’s export processing zones are expected to hit 90 billion Kenyan shillings (about 866 million U.S. dollars) in 2019, up from 770 million U.S. dollars in 2018, a government official said on Monday.

Benjamin Chesang, manager for research, planning and innovation at Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) told Xinhua in Nairobi that the increase is due to the expanded output volumes from existing firms.

"The key overseas market is the United States which offers preferential access to Kenyan goods under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) program," Chesang said.

Chesang said that the zones are attractive to both foreign and local investments because of the tax holidays for corporations who set up there.

He noted that another key market for the exports zones are the European Union especially for horticultural produce.

According to EPZA, more than 60,000 individuals are employed in the 135 manufacturing plants based in the zones.

Chesang said that most of the raw materials especially for the textile firms are sourced from China, adding that Kenya is exploring new markets in Africa and as well as China.

The east African nation introduced the export zones in 1990 in order to boost the country’s foreign exchange earnings.


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