Kenya - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Kenya has an extensive road network of approximately 95,000 miles connecting most parts of the country. According to the U.S. Department of State Country Commercial Guide 2000 , however, the current state of most roads is deplorable. Of the total 63,800 kilometers of highway, for example, only 8,868 kilometers are paved (1996 est.). In collaboration with various donors, the Kenyan government recently launched the ambitious 'Roads 2000' project, designed to create links between all major and minor roads, in addition to rehabilitating 20,000 kilometers of roads in 6 urban centers. The project, which will span approximately 3 years, is expected to cost US$245 million. The road network accounts for over 80 percent of Kenya's total passenger and freight transport.

The state-owned Kenya Railways Corporation (KR) manages Kenya's single-track railway system, which runs from Mombasa through Nairobi to the Ugandan border. As a result of heavy operational losses, there has been a steady deterioration in the KR's services. The World Bank and the British Overseas Development Administration are currently funding a railway rehabilitation project to make KR commercially viable, while the government has made plans to open up the railways to private-sector participation by limiting the KR's role to owning and regulating lines. Accordingly, the KR would lease locomotives to private-sector operators.

Kenya's port of Mombasa, which has an annual average freight throughput of about 8.1 million tons, is the country's main seaport and serves most East and Central

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Kenya 9 104 21 N/A 0 N/A 2.5 0.19 35
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Dem. Rep. of Congo 3 375 135 N/A 0 N/A N/A 0.00 1
Tanzania 4 279 21 0.0 1 N/A 1.6 0.05 25
a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( ) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

African nations. The deep-water port, boasting 21 berths, offers specialized facilities, including cold storage, warehousing, and container terminal.

The international and domestic air transport infrastructure is relatively well-developed in Kenya. There are 3 international airports; the largest is Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, which serves more than 30 airlines providing scheduled services to cities around the world. In total, Kenya has 230 airports, including 21 that are paved. Wilson airport in Nairobi, the busiest airport in Africa, handles light aircraft and general aviation.

In 1999, the Communications Commission of Kenya was established to regulate telecommunications and radio communications in the country. In the same year, the state-owned Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation was split into 2 separate parastatals—Telkom Kenya, a telecommunication corporation, and Postal Corporation of Kenya, a postal services corporation. Kencell, a joint venture between Vivendi France and Sameer of Kenya, won the second cellular license bid in 1999 to provide cellular services in competition with the Telkom subsidiary, Safaricom. The government plans to sell up to 49 percent of Telkom Kenya through the Nairobi Stock Exchange. As of 1998, there were 290,000 main telephone lines in use, or approximately 9.9 telephone lines per 1,000 people. The United States, in comparison, boasted 640 phone lines per 1,000 people in 1996.

Kenya's electricity services are mostly provided by the state-owned Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), though an Electricity Regulation Board was appointed in 1998 to manage the opening up of the power sector to independent private producers. Since 82.74 percent of the power supply comes from hydroelectricity, power outages and blackouts have become increasingly common as a result of chronic drought. In 1999-2000, Kenya experienced its worst drought in 40 years, a development that forced the KPLC to introduce an emergency rationing program in July 2000 under which electricity supplies have been cut off for 12 hours a day. Further adding to the problem, hydro equipment tends to be outdated and poorly maintained. Consequently, the government is eager to further develop both thermal and geothermal sources of power. Two international companies were licensed at the beginning of 1997 to respectively produce 43 MW of power from a thermal plant in Mombasa and 45.5 MW from a diesel plant in Nairobi. In 1998, total electricity production in Kenya equaled 4.23 billion kWh. Only 8 percent of the Kenyan population is connected to the national grid.

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