Nairobi — Mandera Governor Ali Roba has welcomed the move by the World Bank to fund the construction of the Isiolo-Mandera road with a loan of Sh81 billion.
World Bank is advancing Kenya the money for the construction of the 750-kilometer road, complete with a fibre-optic cable.
Roba said the project will boost the region's economy by opening up trading opportunities for farmers in central and eastern Kenya who will now supply fresh farm produce to the northern part.
"There is no doubt it will improve living standards and reduce widespread poverty in these counties while at the same time opening up many jobs and income-generating opportunities for youth and bolstering cross border trade and regional integration with neighbouring countries of Ethiopia and Somalia," he said in a statement.
Roba noted that the loan, which was negotiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta, will facilitate agriculture and livestock-based investment flows and transfer of technology.
The road corridor is a regional route, which serves as a transit route connecting Kenya to Somalia and landlocked Ethiopia.
"With poverty levels in northern Kenya extremely high largely due to 50 years of neglect by successive governments, the road will impact lives in ways never envisaged before and will harness dozens of opportunities for small scale entrepreneurs and the county governments who pay a fortune as transport costs to have goods and services delivered," he said.
The second term Governor further pointed out that the fiber optic cable from Isiolo to Mandera will improve internet connectivity and digital opportunities and will facilitate an additional 200 kilometers fiber optic connectivity within the region.
"When completed, the project is envisaged as one that will bring to an end the discussion of marginalization in the North as well as the single most transformative investment any government in that region for over 100 years," he said.
The project by the World Bank is the first in a series of projects aimed at supporting the development of regional transport corridors and modal linkages under the Horn of Africa Initiative.
The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) helps the world's poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people's lives.
IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world's 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa.
Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.6 billion people who live in IDA countries.