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Kenya’s $3bn show-piece railway project makes $100m loss in first year

Kenya’s flagship railway project registered losses of $100m (£76m) in its first year of operation, according to the transport ministry

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Kenya’s flagship railway project registered losses of $100m (£76m) in its first year of operation, according to the transport ministry.

The BBC reports that the China-funded standard gauge railway – which links the coastal city of Mombasa to the capital, Nairobi, – was funded by a $3bn loan from China’s Exim bank, to be repaid over 15 years.

Kenya dismissed concerns that the railway project was overpriced, unsustainable and economically unviable.

The railway line was central to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election strategy, launched only months before the presidential poll last year.

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While passenger trains get fully booked regularly, the minister said it was hard convincing businessmen to switch cargo transportation from road to rail.

Transport Minister James Macharia told a parliamentary committee that the state was now discussing with major private industries on how to make rail transport more viable.

The repayment begins next year, and if the railway doesn’t break even by then, Kenyan taxpayers will have to foot that bill.

Economists estimate that China now owns 70% of Kenya’s debt. However, the government hopes the railway will start making a profit in the next financial year.

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Nigerien President, Mohamed Bazoum wants employment quotas for African immigrants

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Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum wants employment quotas for African immigrants tailored to job needs from European countries.

President Bazoum made the position in an interview with an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica. on Friday.

The president’s argument is that the quota will address European countries’ needs for its labour market and could help resolve the problem of illegal migration and human trafficking.

“In France, Spain, and Italy you have many jobs in sectors of employment where Africans can work,” Bazoum said.

“These numbers need to be established, country by country, and then the consulates entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing them.”

Surveys of African migrants in or heading toward Europe reveal that the majority were either employed or in school at the time of their departure. Yet, they felt despair over their economic prospects.

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IMF Chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, to visit China over Africa’s growing debt profile

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As the debt profile of many African countries continues to rise, the International Monetary Fund strategy chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu will travel to China next week for another high-level meeting.

Her travel is part of efforts to press the world’s largest sovereign creditor for quicker progress on debt restructurings for countries in need.

The IMF chief had called for debt restructuring arrangements for Zambia and Chad to be completed shortly.

Pazarbasioglu said it was critical to move forward and that “outreach to China next week is very important, at the highest levels.”

“It’s moving – very slowly, but it’s moving,” Pazarbasioglu said, noting that the participation of mining company Glencore Plc in the Chad treatment was also “a very good sign” that “even the most difficult private sector participants” were participating.

She said the Paris Club of official bilateral creditors had taken years to hammer out their debt relief processes, and China was learning, although she noted that the debt issues facing borrowing countries now were acute.

“The problem we have is that we don’t have that time right now because these countries are very fragile and dealing with debt vulnerabilities,” she said. “What we need is speed.”

Pazarbasioglu said the IMF would continue to press for changes to the Common Framework, including a freeze in debt payments when countries apply for a debt treatment, as well as clearer procedures and timelines for action, and ensuring comparable treatment for private creditors.

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