The African Development Bank has formally consented to a loan of about US$165 million to support the construction, and where appropriate upgrade, of a road link from Mombasa to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. The funds are to be disbursed to the Kenya government for the section to the Ethiopian border, covering about 130 kilometers and part of a greater infrastructure plan launched some time ago by NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) aimed to link Kenya with Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Ethiopia in turn will make her own financial arrangements to progress construction of the respective highways to the borders with Djibouti and Kenya, but most likely also to the southern Sudan, which expects to become independent in early 2011.
In parallel, new railroads are being developed to link the region and provide cheaper alternatives to road transport for both cargo and passengers.
Cooperation in the region among like-minded countries has increased in the recent past, to develop common political and military interests in the face of the threats posed by the Islamic militants in Somalia and the stand taken by Eritrea, which is becoming the odd man out more and more.
Ethiopia is not a member of the 5 nation East African Community, but it is understood that intense political and commercial discussions are ongoing between Addis and Arusha, and a future entry of Ethiopia into the East African Community cannot be ruled out, as it would in fact be welcomed by many to further expand the common market and have the greater region eventually speak with one voice on continental and global platforms.
Once ready, it is thought that both the new railway lines and the new roads will also facilitate tourism to a greater extent, as it would allow foreign visitors to take in the scenery along the routes from the ground rather than having only glimpses from the air.