President William Ruto is set to arrive in Paris, France this morning for an official visit.
State House spokesperson Hussein Mohamed said last night that the President will hold talks with his French counterpart, President Emmanuel Macron, on the status of key development projects agreed upon by the two countries.
“Regional peace and security will also feature in the discussions,” said Mohamed in a statement issued on Monday.
Ruto’s visit to the French capital comes just days after the Kenya Kwanza administration put the construction of the Sh160 billion Mau Summit highway on ice, throwing contractors and funders of what is Kenya’s most expensive road project into a spin.
Initiated by retired President Uhuru Kenyatta, the construction of the 233-kilometre Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit Toll Road that was initially meant to kick off in September 2021 had been awaiting the approval of President Ruto but the new administration has grown cold feet.
A consortium of three French firms which won the contract was even ready to break ground on the project having received the financial backing of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank.
The French consortium, made up of Vinci Highways SAS, Meridian Infrastructure Africa Fund, and Vinci Concessions SAS, was expected to recoup its investments in 30 years by charging toll fees for the use of the road.
Last week French Ambassador to Kenya, Arnaud Suquet met Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua ahead of Ruto’s visit to France where the matter of the road was discussed.
“This remains a priority project when it comes to the relationship between the two countries,” said the French Ambassador.
“We remain open to having further discussions with the developer, which we hope will result in giving Kenyan taxpayers the best value for their money,” Gachagua said.
The 233km-highway is to be part of the Northern Corridor network linking the port of Mombasa, through the Malaba border, to Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. It is to be constructed from Rironi, near the capital Nairobi, to Mau Summit through Nakuru County.
It is expected that road will heavily feature in Ruto’s talks with French president Emmanuel Macron.
From France Ruto will then travel to Dakar, Senegal, where he will be a keynote speaker at the Dakar 2 Summit on ‘Feed Africa: Food, Sovereignty and Resilience.’
The summit, organized by the Africa Development Bank, convenes at a time when Africa is experiencing serious food security challenges.
“It is, therefore, an appropriate forum for Heads of State and other partners to discuss how to exploit Africa’s agricultural potential and the plans and programmes that will help scale production,” Mohamed added.
“It will also be an opportunity for leaders in the continent to find ways through which Africa can meet the rising cost of food.”