Kenya, France agree on deals worth 3 billion euros

Kenya and France are also negotiating a contract for 1.6 billion euros to improve a highway from Nairobi northwest to Mau
French President Emmanuel Macron (C-R) and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (C-L) attend an event at Nairobi Central Railway Station in Nairobi on March 13, 2019, on the first day of a state visit to Kenya. – The French president is on a tour of the Horn of Africa nations, with stops in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a series of public-private infrastructure deals with France, totalling 3 billion euros (2.65 billion euros).

Key among the contracts between the Kenyan state and French companies will be the construction of a railway line from the traffic-congested capital Nairobi to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, a trip of about 20 km (12.4 miles) that can take up to two hours by car.

French President, Emmanuel Macron visited Kenya, after Djibouti and Ethiopia on his visit to East Africa. Macron offered “respectful” partnerships in the face of growing regional indebtedness to China – fast expanding its foothold in the continent.

He said France wants trade and commercial relationships that are “much more fair and profitable for Kenyan people. Macron emphasised that the best kind of investment was one that respected the receiving country’s sovereignty and was “sustainable.”

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The railway, Kenyatta said, “will help completely transform the lives of millions of urban workers”. It should be operational by 2021.

Kenya and France are also negotiating a contract for 1.6 billion euros to improve a highway from Nairobi northwest to Mau, a busy stretch of road for passengers and freight that is among the country’s deadliest.

France seek ‘Respectful’ partnership

France is looking to strengthen economic, military, and cultural ties in East Africa. Macron on Tuesday offered “respectful partnership” to Djibouti, to reduce the debt burden to China for infrastructure project loans.

“I would not want international investments to weaken the sovereignty of our partners,” Macron told Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh.

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In Ethiopia, he announced a defence agreement in which France will loan 85 million euros to Ethiopia to support the establishment of a navy for the landlocked country.

On Thursday, the French leader will attend the One Planet Summit in Nairobi on reversing climate change.

Rwanda invited Macron to attend the 25th anniversary of the country’s 1994 genocide that killed some 800,000 of its citizens.

Rwandan authorities have long accused France of complicity in the massacre. Macron has not indicated whether he will attend the event on April 7 in the capital.

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