The Washington DC-based Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Government of Kenya signed a $60 million Kenya threshold program agreement earlier this week. They say the program is designed to improve urban connectivity and promote economic growth in Kenya. MCC and the Government of Kenya jointly designed the Kenya threshold program to address challenges that limit connectivity in urban areas. The announcement stated that the program is focused on Nairobi, where it aims to strengthen institutions and support improvements in long-term planning for integrated, accessible, and safer transportation and land use.
Among its features, the program will focus on the transportation needs of pedestrians and develop more visible transportation options for women. The program will also provide financing support for the acquisition of climate-friendly buses for the emerging bus rapid transit (BRT) network. The grant will assist with the electric bus program for Line 2 of the Bus Rapid Transit system to help alleviate traffic congestion in Nairobi. The program was signed on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that was held in New York this week.
According to its website, the MCC provides time-limited grants promoting economic growth, reducing poverty, and strengthening institutions. These investments in core infrastructure and policy and institutional reforms are key interventions that are improving the lives of nearly 270 million people across forty-six countries and five continents. It adds that the MCC investments support stability and prosperity in partner countries all while furthering American interests. These MCC grants are designed to complement other U.S. and international development programs, as well as create an enabling environment for private sector investment.
These grants are in areas in areas like:
- agriculture and irrigation
- energy and power (generation, distribution, and transmission)
- finance and enterprise development
- land rights and access to land
- transportation infrastructure (roads, bridges, ports)
- water supply and sanitation
Speaking on this $60 million grant, MCC CEO Alice Albright said, “This grant from MCC to the Government of Kenya is the largest and one of the most ambitious threshold programs that MCC has ever implemented with a partner country,” “It reflects MCC’s confidence in Kenya to address its own challenges to economic growth and is yet one more symbol of the longstanding relationship between our two countries.”
President of Kenya William S. Ruto said, “Today’s signing ceremony marks an exciting milestone in the growing partnership between Kenya and the United States.”
Njuguna Ndung’u, Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury and Economic Planning of Kenya, said, “The Government of Kenya is committed to the activities and reforms that make up our Threshold Program, which we jointly designed with MCC. This planned investment will strengthen our transport and land sectors and will generate benefits for the people of Nairobi, as well as for all Kenyans.”
I am really curious to find out more details about this program, how it will actually work, and the implementation timelines, especially on the electrification of mass transit areas like the BRT. There is some good progress being made in Kenya by a couple of startups that are focusing on electrifying Kenya’s intracity commuter bus sector. BasiGo, for example, already has about twenty electric buses operating on the streets of Nairobi in collaboration with several bus operators. Roam also has a high capacity bus, the Roam Rapid, also active in Nairobi, which is suitable for BRT applications. Roam is also set to introduce the recently launched smaller Roam Move electric bus.
There was also a tender a while ago for private players to partner with stakeholders to provide cleaner buses for the BRT. This new grant is therefore a welcome addition to all these previous and current initiatives. I look forward to getting more details on this new program and seeing the electric buses on the road. I wonder if these buses will be sourced from the USA? Will there also be collaborations with the existing players in this sector? Let us wait and find out.
Image courtesy of the Office of The President of Kenya
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