Local Politics Meets Chinese Engineers: A Study of the Chinese-Built standard Gauge Railway Project in Kenya

Image: Flickr, Asian Development Bank
Image: Flickr, Asian Development Bank

As part of China’s new 'Belt and Road Initiative,' Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) aims to open East and Central Africa up to Chinese trade and investment.

Much like other Chinese infrastructure projects in Africa, the SGR has sparked controversy around its economic viability, corruption, opaque contracting practices, financing arrangements, and community and labor issues. Yet, the project has also created modest development opportunities for local content, jobs, and skills. This policy brief examines how local Kenyan politics have affected the construction of the first phase of the SGR, which runs from Mombasa to Nairobi. Research was conducted through in-depth interviews with over 20 stakeholders, extensive review of publicly available documents and media coverage, and three field visits to project sites in November 2014, August 2015, and December 2015.

1 Jan 2016