Rift Valley Railways

RVR-Logo


Country Kenya / Uganda
Sector Transport
Signing Date August 2nd, 2011
Total Project Cost $389M
ICF Debt Pool Exposure $20M
IFI Exposure $164M

Project Description

Rift Valley Railways (RVR) is the Kenya-Uganda concessionaire operating freight and passenger rail services in Kenya and Uganda on an exclusive basis. The company was founded in 2006 and has been granted a 25-year mandate to operate railway services on more than 2,000 kilometers of track linking the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa in Kenya with the interiors of both Kenya and Uganda, including Kampala.
The Project is to finance Rift Valley Railway’s investment plan. The Project expects to execute its strategy in a three-prong approach. Firstly, it will tackle the problem of derailments by replacing worn out rails on the 2,352 km track. Secondly, it will shift to refurbishing the locomotives. And thirdly, it will integrate an information technology network to ease the operation and cut down costs. It will also address maintenance of locomotives to improve reliability and enhance hauling capacity.

Financing Structure

Total loan amount was $164M. Senior lenders included IFC ($22M), KfW ($32M), AfDB ($40M), FMO ($20M), Equity Bank ($20M), BIO ($10M) and ICF Debt Pool at $20M.

Infrastructure Component

Proceeds will be used to fund part of a USD287 M five-year capital expenditure program to rehabilitate infrastructure and rolling stock. The RVR railway comprises 2,352 km of track and 7,300 items of rolling stock.

Investment Rationale

  • Significant competitive advantage versus road especially in long-haul and for certain bulk cargo types.
  • Potential to recapture a significant market share of the transportation business in both Kenya and Uganda lost through underinvestment, which would have a dramatic effect on RVR’s profitability given the high operational gearing involved in rail transportation.
  • Strong Government support: Project enjoys strong governmental support.
  • Market demand:  There is little doubt in the mind of Lenders that the sales will materialize if the execution is there.
  • RVR holds exclusive rights to a key infrastructure link on one of the most important trading corridors in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Operator and Sponsor have solid reputations.

Development Impact

Transport prices in East Africa are among the highest in the world, studies find, with transport to Uganda from Kenya sometimes costing more than US$ 0.13 per ton/kilometer (the standard industry metric) due in large part to heavy reliance on trucking.
An efficient rail network could, in time, bring East African transport costs down by as much as 35% due to the operational and fuel efficiency of shipping by rail.
A lack of operating capacity has resulted in rail capturing less than 10% of East Africa’s transport market. Increasing the efficiency of rail transportation networks is expected to have a direct impact on national productivity and thus GDP growth. The project requires a fraction of the investment it would cost to build a new railway. It is therefore a key developmental priority for the government and the IFIs.

Additionality

There was limited commercial bank and capital market capacity for this transaction considering the long tenor and the mixed track record of past railway privatizations in Sub-Saharan Africa.