President Kenyatta launches scholarship to train railway engineers


President Uhuru Kenyatta Wednesday launched a scholarship program to train new railway engineers in China for the future sustainability of the Standard Gauge Railway.

The President hosted 25 students who will proceed to Beijing Jiaotong University through the scholarship, funded by China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), at State House, Nairobi, where he urged them to commit themselves to their studies to benefit Kenya.

The 25 students are the first batch of 60 students who have been selected to study for a degree course in railway engineering specialising in design and construction, signalling and communication and operation and maintenance.

The scholarship program, the Railway Talents Cultivation Program, is part of the efforts to develop human capacity for the sustainability of the SGR and is an outcome of agreements reached between President Kenyatta and Chinese President XI Jinping in South Africa in December 2015.

When President Kenyatta and President Jinping met during the China-Africa summit, they reached an agreement on issues of education and training under which the Chinese government is going to support 1000 Kenyan students to receive undergraduate studies in the next three years.

“Our ambition is to have the full capacity to operate and maintain this railway and I urge you to set a good example and make us proud,” President Kenyatta told the beneficiaries.

President Kenyatta said the Government has committed itself to revive and modernise Kenya’s railway transport system and thanked the Chinese for working closely with Kenya.

He said the SGR will make railway transport cheap and efficient and urged the students to study well with an aim to come back with skills for maintaining the project.

“Your country will depend on what you learn to maintain our transport network,” the President said, adding that the Government is committed to reviving the railway transport system which collapsed because of poor management of resources.

As part of the plans to ensure sustainability of the SGR, the Government and the Chinese companies have reached a deal on a three-tier training program in the early stages of the project.

The deal involves revival of the Railway Training Institute, helping Kenyan universities set up railway academies and sponsoring Kenyan students to study railway courses in top Chinese universities.

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya, Liu Xianfa, said the scholarships signal the close relationship between Kenya and China.

“It also signifies the close relationship between President Kenyatta and the Chinese President. In 2015 they instructed us to increase scholarships to our areas of cooperation,” said Mr Xianfa.

Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia also spoke at the event.