Island Paradise and Cultural Significance on Kenya's Lamu Archipelago
Kenya is seldom thought of in island terms, yet the country has one of the most interesting archipelagos in the world: the Lamu Archipelago. Once you arrive in Kenya, travel to the north coast and you can hop on a plane or ferry to Lamu Town on Lamu Island. It is reputed to be the oldest living town in Kenya and has a colourful history that includes Chinese and Portuguese influences. In fact, Lamu Town has such great cultural significance that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reason for its inclusion on the list is its well preserved Swahili settlement, which has proved invaluable in determining ancient Swahili culture and traditions.
The $16 billion Lamu Port Project
Investors around the world are abuzz with excitement after Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki announced the imminent start of the construction work on Lamu Port, arguably the country's largest investment so far.
The project which will include among others, an oil refinery, a railway line and a modern road to link Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the South Sudan capital Juba to the Kenyan coast Lamu Port will cost $16 billion (shs1.4 trillion), much larger than the country's budget.
President Kibaki has called on government officials, Kenya's ambassador around the world as well as foreign envoys based in Nairobi to help market the project to investor. Already China is a leading contender, with many of its companies having been lobbying for the project ever since it was made public. But there are many more that have already expressed interest including Germany, Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.
The project is designed to provide Kenya with a second, deep-sea port and to open up a route to the landlocked countries of Ethiopia and the newly independent, oil rich South Sudan. President Kibaki said a feasibility study carried out by Japan Port Consultants had already been presented to the government and that the Kenya government would soon launch the project.
Development of a New Railway Line Under ROOLA Project
In recognition of the need to build infrastructure that will provide the backbone to the growth of a vibrant economy and provide invest opportunities as well as create millions of jobs for the jobless youth, the Government is in the process of bringing on board an investor that will development a new transport corridor from Lamu to Southern Sudan, Ethiopia and later on Somalia under the ROOLA Project at a cost of US$ 15 billion. The New Transport Corridor will comprise of a New Port , Air Port and Recreational City at Lamu; new road network; a new railway line; and an oil refinery and oil pipe line, in addition to development of several recreation cities along the new transport corridor. The Project will definitely change the economy of the country as most Kenyans will be fully involved in new economic activities.
Kibaki hints at impending start of Lamu port project
Nairobi: The proposed Lamu Port inched closer to reality after President Kibaki hinted that the multi-billion-shilling project was finally about to start. Although there has been no disclosure about whether funding has been secured for the project, the President's comment that he would soon be taking part in a groundbreaking ceremony suggests that the government is keen on seeing construction of the port get underway. The President's unfailing enthusiasm about the port project would appear to indicate that this is undoubtedly one of the high-profile projects he wants to be part of his legacy when he leaves office next year.
'The feasibility study for Lamu Port and supporting infrastructure is now complete. I look forward to soon undertaking the groundbreaking ceremony for the project,' President Kibaki said in Mombasa a week ago when he visited the town to open the Agricultural Society of Kenya show.
Stressing that the Coast region remains the principal gateway to Kenya and eastern and central Africa, he said this important role has made it necessary to allocate more resources to the country's ports and harbours. 'This is the reason we are placing emphasis on the new Lamu Port to complement the work of the Port of Mombasa,' the President said.
Other projects underway in the region are the dredging and expansion of Mombasa Port, which will enable it to handle larger and more ships, and the improvement of the road network and expansion of airports in the region.
That Lamu Port has become one of the President's pet projects was evident in yet another visit to the region to open a two-week conference for Kenya's ambassadors. President Kibaki mandated Kenyan ambassadors to aggressively market the proposed second transport corridor that will serve Ethiopia and South Sudan.