Kenya, South Sudan to Focus on Joint Highway Project

Kenya and South Sudan agreed to prioritize the construction of a highway that will link the two countries, part of an infrastructure project in East Africa.

The road, which would connect landlocked South Sudan to the Kenyan port of Lamu, will be be funded jointly by the two countries, South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said today at a press conference in Juba, South Sudan’s capital.

East African countries are taking part in the infrastructure project, which includes a railway and crude oil pipeline through Ethiopia to Djibouti. The projects will help South Sudan reduce its reliance on neighbor Sudan and expand trade with Kenya, whose economy is forecast to expand at the fastest rate in six years.

The road is “critical to improvement of trade and the movements of persons between our two nations,” said Kenyatta, 51, who was on his first offical trip outside of Kenya since being sworn into office last month.

The World Bank has pledged about $100 million for the highway project, South Sudan Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said in an interview.

The countries plan to jointly develop and “fast track” the construction of the pipeline, Kenyatta said.

South Sudan’s only export is oil, which the government relies on to generate 98 percent of its revenue. The country resumed oil output last month, after halting production in January 2012 over a dispute with Sudan over processing and transport fees. The countries separated in 2011.

Kenya is forecasting economic expansion of 6 percent this year, compared with 4.6 percent last year, Planning Secretary Anne Waiguru told reporters today in Nairobi.

In March 2012, the country began construction of the Lamu deep-water port that will also serve northern Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeran Wittenstein in San Francisco at jwittenstei1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrea Snyder at asnyder5@bloomberg.net

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