The Politics Behind Lucrative Chinese Infrastructure Deals in Kenya

At play are intense subterranean factional fights among the political elite over opportunities to broker Chinese-funded projects


Chinese contractors rule the roost in Kenya. The other day, the Principal Secretary for Transport, Mr Nyakera Irungu, publicly confessed that a Chinese contractor had started constructing a section of the Nairobi-Naivasha standard gauge railway without the knowledge of his ministry.

Incredibly, China Road and Bridge Corporation was proceeding with the work — building pillars and tunnels through Maasailand when even the route the line would follow had not been determined by the government.

An environmental impact assessment study had yet to be done, no agreement had been reached with the Kenya Wildlife Service on the sections of national parks where the railway would pass, and, although a great deal of work had been accomplished with regard to finalising financing agreements for the section, the pacts had not been signed.