April 27, 2019 / 9:33 AM / 5 months ago

Kenya secures $666 million from China for tech city, highway

Motorists pass through a famous landmark in Mombasa, Kenya, August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya has secured 67.5 billion shillings ($666 million) in funding from China to build a data centre in a tech city currently under construction and a highway in Nairobi, the president’s office said on Friday.

Kenya has turned to China over the past few years for funds, technology and equipment to develop its infrastructure, including its biggest project since independence, a new railway linking Mombasa to Nairobi, opened in 2017.

The new funding will consist of loans at low interest rates and partnerships with private firms. The tech city will be built in Konza, about an hour’s drive from Nairobi.

Chinese telecoms firm Huawei [HWT.UL] will develop the Konza project at a cost of 17.5 billion shillings, according to the statement from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s office. It was issued from Beijing, where Kenyatta is attending the second Belt and Road Forum.

The remaining 50 billion shillings will go to build a highway in the capital linking the main airport with the suburbs, to be carried out by China Road and Bridge Corporation at a cost of 51 billion shillings.

Critics accuse Kenyatta’s government of saddling future generations with unbearable debt burdens by borrowing more funds from China. The government says borrowing to build the infrastructure will spur economic development.

($1 = 101.4000 Kenyan shillings)

Reporting by Omar Mohammed; editing by Larry King, Duncan Miriri and Hereward Holland

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