Chinese contractors beat Kenyan rivals on local projects

Chinese contractors Kenya. PHOTO/FILE
Chinese contractors have been hailed for the quality of their work. PHOTO/FILE
As Kenya continues to embark on its most ambitious infrastructure investment program, it is emerging that Chinese are out muscling local contractors on the country’s major projects.

According to sources, Chinese companies have scooped more than two thirds of the lucrative tenders for the the fiscal year ending next June. About 78.6 billion shillings ($973.1 million) has been budgeted for spending on road construction during the fiscal year.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga recently challenged local road contractors to improve their standards so as to compete with Chinese firms.

“You have to be competitive vis-a-vis the Chinese in terms of costs, quality and speed,” Raila Odinga told a press meeting called by the Roads Ministry to find ways of increasing the involvement of Kenyan firms in construction projects.


Local contractors are blaming the government for raising the demands on firms during the tendering process, for instance, requiring experience on big projects – which most local contractors lack due to many years of underinvestment in the sector.

Major projects being carried out by Chinese firms include sections of the highway linking Nairobi to the port of Mombasa, as well as a 12-lane, 40 km motorway between Nairobi and Thika town.