Some of the engineering projects earmarked this year include dams, irrigation, power generation, ports, marinas, structured parking facilities, hostels and hotels.
There are vigorous attempts to digitize most of the activities in the country with efforts ranging from ICT improvements of mundane daily activities like paying bus fare to vital banking transactions.
In the final week of 2013 the cabinet gave a nod to 47 projects which are mainly engineering in nature. They are to be implemented as public private partnership projects. These will have a stimulating effect on the economy, creating jobs and improving the infrastructure.
The appointment of former head of public service, Mr Francis Muthaura, as chairman of Lapsset Development Authority has set the stage for works on the multi-billion infrastructure initiative to start.
Lapsset Development Authority was formed by former President Mwai Kibaki and it will function as an autonomous agency implementing the project on behalf the government. The institution is expected to oversee the roll out of the biggest infrastructure investment in Kenyan history.
The main components of the Lapsset project include a road network, a railway line, oil pipeline from South Sudan to Lamu, and airports in Lamu, Isiolo and Lokichogio.
The railway line will run from Lamu to Isiolo from where it will branch to Ethiopia and South Sudan. There would also be three resort cities in Lamu, Isiolo and Turkana.
Experts say the project will create business opportunities for the people of Lamu, while opening up large swathes of land in northern Kenya that have remained unexploited due to lack of or poor infrastructure.
Standard gauge railways
The $US 5.2bn line will be constructed by China Road & Bridge Corporation and is estimated to take five years to complete. Passenger trains will be able to run at a maximum speed of 120km/h while freight trains will operate at 100km/h. This will cut the journey time for passenger services from 13 hours on the existing metre-gauge line to around 4 hours. The project was launched late last year and is set to be under construction this year. Currently the project is rocked by allegations of corruption and public scandal. These setbacks must not be allowed to bring such a magnanimous project to a hold being as it is that the Chinese already put up the money for its construction.
National Treasury has given clearance for construction of Maragwa and Ndarugu dams in a public-private partnership arrangement. The construction is expected to start this year. Completion of works for the two dams is expected to ease ongoing water supply deficits within Nairobi City. Treasury said the Nairobi Bulk Water Supply project has been approved by the Cabinet in the list that comprises 47 public-private projects.
Some of the new road projects that could begin this year include the dualling of both the Mombasa-Nairobi and Nairobi-Nakuru highways, which will be constructed and expanded to dual carriageway. This add to on-going projects and other initiatives by county governments
Operation and maintenance of a 40km section of the 8–12 lane Nairobi –Thika highway will be put in private sector hands, as will the 30km Nairobi Southern bypass.
Digitization of the matatu sector
The Matatu industry is currently experiencing changes which include the introduction of cash less paying of bus fares. By the middle of the year all public service vehicles will only be accepting electronic payments
Digital migration and CCK
There is still much controversy around the digital migration between the consumer lobby group Consumer federation of Kenya (Cofek), the courts, the broadcasters and the government on how best to implement the project. The world wide deadline for switch off is already set for 2015. CCK must find a way to steer the country satisfactorily into the digital era. CCK is also set to rebrand in the wake of its increasing involvement in the lives of Kenyans. It is also worth noting that a showdown is looming between the government body and mobile operators after it judged all mobile service providers giving services below acceptable levels of quality service provision.
Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has received shareholder approval for capital raising of up to $350 million for Olkaria IV, Olkaria I and geothermal wellhead units, as well as wind projects for 2014. This is in line with the Jubilee government assertion to produce 5000MW by 2017. This will go along way into supporting the energy consuming enterprises in the country and also domestic consumers.
A clearer picture of the oil resources in Kenya is expected in the course of this year. This is as oil exploration and production intensify activities as well as test the already drilled wells. Kenya is yet to determine the amount of oil reserve it has but all points to commercial viability. The Lokichar Basin where Africa Oil and its partner Tullow oil have acreage is estimated to have upwards of 20 billion barrels. The various firms exploring are in a race to be the first to announce the actual deposits and proclaim commercial viability in their blocks. Tullow expects to drill more than 10 wells this year as well as other prospecting firms.
Base titanium is set to start generating revenue this year for the country as a result of its successful ongoing mining operations. The company, with an investment base of $300 million in the mining sector, is expected to contribute close to one per cent annual GDP to the country’s economy with $200 million in annual export revenue.
Kwale sand project under Base titanium puts Kenya among top producers of ilmenite, rutile and zircon. Minerals from Kwale are expected to account for 14 per cent of global supply, and only second to South Africa on the continent.
The legislature has drafted laws that come into effect this year and are likely going to affect engineering companies. PUBLIC entities should not import goods that can be sourced from local manufacturers, new public procurement regulations say. Items falling under this category include motor vehicles, plant and equipment that are assembled in Kenya, construction materials and other material used in the transmission and conduction of electricity made in Kenya.
Others are furniture, textiles, foodstuffs and other goods made or locally available in Kenya. These goods will now enjoy exclusive preference, the regulations says in part as published by the Public Procurement Oversight Authority in the last week of 2013.
The cost for tender documents for government supplies has been slashed from Sh5,000 to Sh1,000 to encourage more youth and women to participate in state contracts.
And if a potential supplier acquires the tender documents electronically, he or she must get the documents free of charge. These are some of the provisions contained in the amended public procurement and disposal regulations 2013 and published by the Public Procurement Oversight Authority last week
“The regulations also allow acquisition of bid bonds by tenderers such as youth, women and persons with disability from deposit taking microfinance institutions, sacco societies, Youth Enterprise Development Fund and the Women Enterprise Fund,” says the PPOA notice.
Small or micro enterprises or enterprises owned by disadvantaged groups such as youth, women and persons with disability who intend to participate in public procurement are now required to apply for registration with the National Treasury or the respective county treasury within which they operate.
The new regulations have also drastically slashed the mandatory period of procurement processes with the provision that the tender award period must not exceed 30 days from date of tender opening.
Pre-qualification period has been slashed from 14 to seven days with preparation of international tenders cut from minimum 30 to 21 days. Preparation of national tenders will now take a minimum 14 days from the earlier 21 days.
Exclusive preference to citizen contractors will be given to those with Sh1 billion for road works, construction materials and other materials used in transmission and conduction of electricity provided the material is made in Kenya, Sh500 million for others works, Sh100 million for good and Sh50 million for services.
The procuring entities will in addition be required to maintain standing lists of suppliers bi-annually and submit to the PPOA within 14 days, submit details of contract awards on quarterly basis and provide reasons to unsuccessful tenderers for their failure.
These legislations and with the Public Private Property law in place, the private sector will be involved in the development and management of infrastructure projects across the country this will spur on the development of much needed infrastructure and induce higher public participation
The outlook of 2014 is sure promising for engineers not only on the progressing projects but also the ones on inception.