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Africa's $30 Billion Rail Renaissance Holds Ticket for Trade

  • Railway will link Mombasa port to landlocked Uganda, Rwanda
  • Enough track to connect Cape Town with Copenhagen are planned
An old colonial-era railway line sits near the site of the new Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway line under construction in Voi, Kenya.
Photographer: Riccardo Gangale/Bloomberg
Updated on

On a sweltering Kenyan morning on the outskirts of a national wildlife park, Chinese and local workers maneuver a massive concrete rail-bridge structure onto towering support piers. In the distance, trucks loaded with shipping containers rumble down a highway.

The bridge at Voi, northwest of the port of Mombasa, is the latest construction frontline for the initial 327 billion-shilling ($3.2 billion) stretch of an ambitious railway project to link the East African country with landlocked neighbors including Rwanda and Uganda. As a faster alternative to the trucks clogging the only road running inland to the capital, the Chinese-built and -financed standard-gauge railway, known as the SGR, has the potential to transform trade in the region.