One of the prime examples of a cooperation between the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Government of Kenya is the eight-lane ultra-modern expressway which most Kenyans affectionately refer to as the “Nairobi-Thika Superhighway”.
With a project cost of approximately US$360 million and combined funding from AfDB, the Kenyan Government and Exim Bank of China, the work started in 2009 and was completed in 2012. After 5 years, The Thika Superhighway has emerged as a vital piece of infrastructure that drives Kenya’s economic development and promotes regional integration. The expressway has yielded impressive and visible results. It has contributed to improvements in accessibility and affordability of Kenyan transport infrastructure system to promote economic growth and socio-economic development. It has also contributed to regional connectivity in the Eastern African region.
Commuters are now able to enjoy faster, reliable comfortable and more affordable journeys. The time taken to cross Thika town and Nairobi has dropped from 2-3 hours to 30-45 minutes. The traffic choke points that occur along old Nairobi-Thika road are no more, freeing up time and increasing fuel consumption savings. The superhighway has now attracted a long list of businesses from supermarkets, car dealerships, hotels and real estate developers. Described by Kenya’s former president, Mwai Kibaki as ‘the most ambitious infrastructure project in the country’s history’, the eight-lane superhighway stretching from the city of Nairobi all the way to the outskirts of Thika town some fifty kilometers away has deeply impacted the lives of millions of people. “The Nairobi-Thika superhighway is a national pride. It is the first modern highway infrastructure in Kenya’s history, and will enable the country to achieve the goal of reaching middle-income status by 2030, he added.
The city’s geographic boundaries have also expanded to accommodate new inhabitants lured by new business opportunities created by the dual carriageway and related infrastructure. The corridor is, without doubt, a key element in East Africa, with many neighboring countries rushing to replicate it. As a regional corridor, it also constitutes an important part from Cape Town in South Africa to Cairo in Egypt. The Nairobi-Thika highway also provides a reliable transport corridor linking Kenya with Ethiopia via Moyale to the north and Tanzania via Namanga to the south.
Following completion of the works and the launch of the expressway, people living along it have witnessed the occurrence of a huge transformation of the landscape. Businesses are thriving and road-users are reaping the benefits of the ultra-modern superhighway.