Kenya receives private funding of Sh21bn for old rail link to SGR
Yesterday, Transport Secretary James Macharia announced that private contractors will finance the upgrade of metre-gauge railway (MGR) connecting Naivasha and the Malaba border. He also shared plans to build a new line connecting to the Standard-Gauge Railway (SGR). Construction is estimated to cost SH21bn (US$36.5mn).
This combination of private-public funding comes in the wake of the termination of the Chinese-funded project to Uganda's border that would have created a faster transport route. Macharia asserted: “We prefer the private sector so there’s no impact on the country’s debt.”
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Kenya opted for a public-private ownership to ensure the construction of a more reliable trainline, without requiring further loans. This would enable a more reliable connection onto Kampala. There were initial plans for the standard-gauge railway to connect from East Africa’s largest port of Mombasa to Uganda, but this project was abandoned mid-construction.
Macharia continued: “Private sector would be much faster because you know it is the financing agreements that takes longer but if you have ready funding from the private sector then we just engage them within our existing Public Private Partnership arrangements. We concluded the deal for the expressway from Mombasa in two months so it is possible.”
Of the allocated funding, $60 million will fund a 43-kilometer (26.7 mile) meter-gauge line. This will connect the old and new railways. Construction is expected to take a year.
Macharia ensured that “we shall quickly, very urgently, do a link between the SGR Naivasha and the MGR Naivasha to make sure there’s seamless transshipment when goods get to Mombasa.” Construction will begin in the next three months.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.