U.S. President Barack Obama jetted out of Kenya Sunday evening en route to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; marking the end of the GES 2015, and the return of normalcy in and around the streets of Nairobi. No more roadblocks, boots and guns patrolling the street among other Secret Service activities.
Indeed come Monday, Kenyans will be feeling the hangover from the visit of the first sitting US President, which was in more than one way important for both the Kenyans and President Obama. It is now time to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of the socio-economic gains from the GES 2015.
The Kenyan government is already on the negotiating table with US companies on a partnership on a multibillion-dollar deal that will see the development of the country’s biggest infrastructure project yet. The said US companies want a piece of the action in the construction of the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor; a construction project involving the construction of a power, railway, power plant among other infrastructures.
The negotiations are being coordinated by Aeolus Kenya Ltd., a power and infrastructure developer commonly referred to as AKL. The company in an email response to Bloomberg’s questions said on Sunday:
“AKL has been in ongoing negotiations with the US government and the government of Kenya proposing a suite of integrated, critical infrastructure solutions that will initiate Kenya’s Lapsset program.”
One of the US companies interested in the Lapsset project includes the Bechtel Group Inc. The discussion on partnership coincided with the 6th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) that saw U.S. President Obama visit the country.
It would be worthy to note that China surpassed the U.S. as Africa’s leading trading partner in 2009, and in any way you look at it. The U.S. is trying to play catch-up. Trade between China and Africa hit $198.5 billion in 2012, compared to U.S.-Africa trade that stood at just $99.8 billion, according to stats released by Brookings Institute based in Washington.
According to a press statement issued by Kenya’s President Kenyatta on June 25, he said Kenya is “very excited about Lapsset, and we want the American package to be considered.”
Bechtel Group Inc. based in San Francisco confirmed to Bloomberg via email yesterday that indeed it is one of the U.S. companies currently in talk with AKL.
Other projects being pushed onto the discussion table by AKL include an 880-megawatt liquid-natural-gas-fired power plant, the construction of an oil pipeline from the oil reserves discovered in Northern Kenya running to Uganda and six other berths at the Lamu deep-water ports. The Lamu County is said to be experiencing water shortage, and the establishment of a desalination plant will go a long way.
The Lapsset construction price tag is estimated by the Kenya Treasury to stand at $26 billion. The government’s website says it also want to set up resort cities, inter-regional highway and an international airport.
The Lamu County located close to the Somalia borders, a country home to the al-Qaeda-linked insurgent group of al-Shabaab. The militants have waged insurgency since as early as 2006. They recently executed a raid in Mpeketoni located near Lamu back in June 2014 where at least 60 lives were lost. The AKL plan will include benefiting the locals through the provision of education, jobs and improved security.