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Kenya and France Ink Historic Deal for Light Rail System

French President Emmanuel Macron greets Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta as they address a news conference after touring the Nairobi Central Railway in Nairobi, Kenya March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Kenya has signed a financing deal with France for a light rail system between the capital Nairobi and the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

This was announced on Wednesday after a meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta.

“We are launching a project for the refurbishment of the rail-line, from the central station to the airport,” Macron told reporters at a press conference in Nairobi.

President Kenyatta added that Kenya and France would focus on sustainable infrastructure to “ensure our citizens get the development they deserve.”

The light rail project is expected to be complete by 2021.

Macron added that France plans to invest 3.1 billion euros worth of projects in Kenya once the two countries sign new trade deals on Thursday.

Kenya has been on an aggressive infrastructure development phase as it seeks to accelerate economic growth, with China playing a key role in funding this initiative.

When asked about France as an investor in comparison to China, President Kenyatta replied: “Every country is different, every country offers different ingredients, you cannot compare apples with oranges. An apple is an apple and orange is an orange but they are all good for you”

While Kenyatta noted France provides a holistic deal he did state that the country would continue engaging with development partners that share the same economic ideals with Kenya.

“We are taking advantage of the best the world as to offer,” the Kenyan president told reporters.

Macron added that he believed China’s contribution to development projects was positive, adding that a respect for sovereignty and reciprocity was necessary. “China is a great economic and political power. In particular we in France have a long standing relationship with mutual respect,” he said.

President Macron is on a two day state visit to Kenya, having landed from Ethiopia where he met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Kenyatta and Macron are scheduled to co-host the One Planet Summit at the ongoing United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi on Thursday.

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