Africa-Press – Gambia. As a Chinese-built and financed tollway opens in Kenyan capital Nairobi, its most remarkable feature may be that it is an example of Beijing’s attempt to retool the financing behind its Belt and Road Initiative in Africa.
The China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) built the 27.1km (16.8 miles) Nairobi Expressway linking the country’s main airport and the capital. The US$668 million project was financed by the state-owned China Communications Construction Company, CRBC’s parent company.
A CRBC subsidiary, Moja Expressway, will operate the road for 27 years to recoup the investment through toll fees.
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In all, the road marks a gradual shift in the belt and road strategy, from public debt finance to a new method of funding for infrastructure like roads and power plants in Africa: public-private partnerships (PPP).
Under the PPP model, Chinese private companies can lower the risks to repayment and help African governments reduce their loans and budget deficits, observers say.Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta struck a deal to build the expressway when he met Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2018. Photo: dpa alt=Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta struck a deal to build the expressway when he met Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2018. Photo: dpa>
The Nairobi Expressway opened to public use on a trial basis on Saturday, ahead of an official launch next month. The tollway is expected to ease traffic flows in and out of Nairobi’s city centre by reducing traffic congestion on Mombasa Road, which runs alongside it. The deal to build the expressway was struck in September 2018 during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, when Kenyatta met Chinese President Xi Jinping.