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China’s Built a Railroad to Nowhere in Kenya (Bloomberg)

July 18, 2019

From the article:

Gleaming concrete sleepers run across a new railway bridge in Kenya, the latest stretch of a Chinese-built line from the coast all the way to Uganda.

Only, it doesn’t quite reach the border. Instead, the railroad ends abruptly by a sleepy village about 75 miles west of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, the tracks laid but unused.

Construction of what was intended to be a flagship infrastructure project for Eastern Africa was halted earlier this year after China withheld some $4.9 billion in funding needed to allow the line’s completion. Beijing’s sudden financial reticence appeared to catch the governments of Kenya and Uganda off guard: Both may now be forced to reinstate a colonial-era line in a bid to patch the link and boost regional trade.

The downside is that Kenya was one of three African countries identified in a March 2018 report by the Washington-based Center for Global Development as at risk of debt distress as a result of its Belt and Road participation. The others were Egypt and Ethiopia.

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Photo of Scott Morris
Senior Fellow, Director of the US Development Policy Initiative