Fred Aminga @faminga
France has pledged to invest 1 billion euros (Sh113 billion) to finance and support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Kenya.
Through Choose Africa project, French President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday during his maiden visit to Kenya that France will support enterprises across Africa by providing credit, technical support and equity financing.
The French president said he is scouting for economic partnerships to foster growth and returns, and insisted that he intends to pursue projects that reduce public expenditure risks. Macron said he intends to sign long-term partnerships in infrastructure, blue economy, health, higher education and research.
France plans financial and technical support estimated at $2.8 billion (Sh280 billion) for African startups and SMEs. The funds will be mobilised through the French Development Agency and its private-sector financing arm, Proparco.
At State House Nairobi, Macron and President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled a SUV Peugeot vehicle which has been assembled in Kenya by French firm PSA Groupe for sale in Kenya and the region.
Macron, who is on a three-day trip to Africa during which he will attend the UNEA 4 meeting in Nairobi also officiated the launch of the Sh10 billion Commuter rail network rehabilitation last evening in Nairobi together with his host President Uhuru.
Macron committed 400 million euros (Sh45 billion) towards the construction of a commuter train infrastructure which will connect the Central Business District and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by 2021. President Uhuru said the move will revamp East African Railway and transform it into a modern world class railway which can handle in excess of 500,000 people daily.
“Today I thank the government of France for partnering with Kenya to enhance the transport system in East Africa’s busiest iconic city of Kenya, Nairobi,” he said, adding that he will build quality, resilient and sustainable infrastructure for this and future generations.“Let us get to work and see us breaking ground and moving forward on the shortest time possible. Let us not take 10 years but two years to realise this project,” he said.
This is set to greatly reduce travel time between Nairobi CBD and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, and deepen Nairobi’s position as East Africa’s commercial hub.
Uhuru said this deal proves Kenya’s willingness to embrace various partners to build world-class Infrastructure for citizens.
Apart from hardware, France will also bring in software support such as ticketing, monitoring and other specialis-ed services.
This deal will go a long way to boost plans to revamp the Commuter Rail network in the Nairobi Metropolitan Area including Nairobi Central Station to Ruiru, Embakasi Village, Kikuyu, and Kitengela.