By Dinfin Mulupi
VENTURES AFRICA – Japanese automaker, Toyota, is set to be one of the major beneficiaries of Kenya’s ambitious plan to become an industrialized state by 2030. The automaker through its trade, investment and logistics arm, Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC) has entered an agreement with the Kenyan Government to build an oil pipeline linking Lamu in Kenya to South Sudan as part of the multi-billion dollar Lamu Port Southern Sudan and Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET).
TTC will also implement other key projects highlighted in Kenya’s economic blue print, Vision 2030, in sectors such as energy, agro-processing and food production. In collaboration with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), TTC will supply machinery to farmers in the rice-producing Mwea area in Kirinyaga County.
“I am pleased to note that Toyota Tsusho Corporation and the Kenya Government through Vision 2030 are set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) where Toyota will intensify investments in energy, logistics, and food production and processing,” said the Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat Director General, Mugo Kibati.
The Japanese firm joins a host of other multinationals that are implementing multi-million shilling key national flagship projects in Kenya.
Most ongoing infrastructural projects are capital intensive and the contracts have been awarded to foreign firms that have experience handling projects of similar magnitude, thereby locking out most local firms for lack of expertise and experience.
The U$23bn LAPSET project for instance, which is believed to be one of the largest infrastructure projects in the region combining the construction of a new port in Lamu, a pipeline, refinery , resort cities in northern Kenya and a railways line to South Sudan and Ethiopia is expected to be implemented mostly by foreign firms.
The China Road and Bridge Company (CRBC) has undertaken majority of road construction projects in Kenya. The firm has been contracted to construct the 30 km Greater Southern Bypass at a cost of approximately Ksh. 17 billion as well as the Ksh. 8.5 billion 39-km Eastern bypass and is expected to undertake most of the construction of the Northern Corridor Transport Improvement Project (NCTIP) funded by the World Bank Group’s International Development Agency (IDA) covering road and air transport. Other Chinese firms like China Wuyi Co and Shengli Engineering Construction Group Company have also been awarded major Vision 2030 hinged infrastructure projects.
The Government is collaborating with foreign firms in implementing key flagship projects as Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives.
Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki has not shied away from urging foreign investors, specifically from China to invest in the country especially in key projects expected to propel the East African state to middle income status.
The new buzz project, Konza Technology City (Konza City) a US$14.5-billion to be implemented over 20 years will mostly be championed by international investors. The project set on 2 000 hectares outside capital Nairobi is expected to finally rubber stamp Kenya’s desired status of becoming the true Silicon Savannah. Though no major international companies have made commitments to set base in Konza City, the government is eyeing the likes of Microsoft, computer company IBM and phone manufacturer Nokia who have either opened offices in Nairobi or shown interest of doing so.