The Star (Nairobi)

23 May 2012

Kenya: World Bank to Focus on Roads

The World Bank will prioritise funding support for Kenya in roads construction, energy and implementation of the new constitution as well as reforms in the justice system, the bank's new vice president for Africa Maktar Diop has said. Diop was speaking in his office at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC where he held talks with Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.

Kalonzo, who was accompanied by Roads PS Eng Michael Kamau said Kenya's request from the World Bank was being subjected to longer approval procedures compared to applications by other nations. Diop said concerns on governance issues around past projects was the reason for the extra scrutiny on Kenya's current requests. He however promised to ensure that Kenya gets support to aid the implementation of the new constitution, strengthen institutions, roads and the energy sector.

Kalonzo said Kenya was seeking support in various sectors for the realisation of Vision 2030. "We are happy that Diop, who has worked in Kenya, is now heading the African division at the bank and we are confident that we will get the necessary support," Kalonzo said. Kamau said the country was seeking $300 million (Sh24 billion) for the urban transport improvement programme, which includes money for construction of the Nairobi flyover that connects Mombasa Road to Westlands, studies on the Bus Rapid Transit project, Meru bypass, studies on light rail network by Kenya Railways and the improvement of the airport - Rironi Road in Nairobi.

Upon arrival at Washington DC from Minnesota, US, the Vice President delivered a lecture at the Brookings Institute on the topic "Kenya in Transition". Kalonzo engaged the well attended meeting comprising top policymakers and members of respected think tanks in Washington on various issues ranging from the conflict in Somalia, tension between Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan as well as situation of refugees in Kenya.

He also gave a candid assessment of Kenya's reform agenda beginning with the promulgation of a new constitution to the changes in the judiciary, the police force as well as his take on the preparation and the conduct of the forth coming general elections.

Kalonzo said Kenya was determined to avoid the "curse" of oil by seeking to prudently manage income from oil discovered in Turkana if it is found to be commercially viable. "I know some countries in Africa have had problems instead of prosperity once they struck oil. Kenya is determined not to travel that road" Kalonzo said.

Among those in the audience was former American ambassador to Kenya, William Belamy and former Kamukunji Joe Nyaga as well as representatives of corporate America. While addressing Kenyans living in Washington DC, Kalonzo urged them to invest their resources at home.

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