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The National Construction Authority on Thursday, 15th March signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the International Finance Corporation, allowing for a legal and operational cooperation framework for the implementation of the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Road Construction project by the World Bank in Kenya.
NCA Executive Director Dr. Arch. Daniel Manduku appended his signature to the agreement during the launch of the SME Road Construction project at the World Bank’s Delta Centre offices in Upper Hill, Nairobi .The event was presided over by IFC Country Manager for East Africa Manuel Moses and Infrastructure Principal Secretary Julius Korir. Also present were officials Strathmore Business School, and Kenya Institute of Highways and Building Technology (KIHBT), who also signed individual MOUs as they are a part of the project.
The SME Road project is an initiative to enhance the capacity of at least 30% of SME road contractors in order to enable them to submit more qualified bids and win more contracts in public sector road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance, as well as improve SME project execution.
This will be done through offering support to sector value chain activities including sector promotion to increase SME visibility, facilitating SME networking with different actors of the value chain and increasing SME access to opportunities in the value chain. These activities will be coupled with skills development, mentoring and coaching where necessary to enhance SME capacity and performance in project delivery, management, operations, and bidding.
Speaking at the ceremony, PS Korir, who signed the MOU on behalf of the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, said that capacity building is key amongst local SME contractors to enable them carry out better quality works. He cited the example of repair works on the section of the Narok-Maai Mahiu road that had sunken due to seismic and volcanic activity. “The contractor in-charge of repairing and maintaining that section of road did not have the capacity and equipment to carry out the restoration within the shortest time possible, forcing us to find a Kenya based foreign contractor with the capacity to do so. This is quite frustrating but something that can be solved through initiatives such as the one we are launching today,” he said.
On his part, Mr. Moses expressed his gratitude to all the organizations that are part of the program for embracing and supporting the idea. “Funding has already been released and going by the receptiveness you’ve shown towards the project, there is no reason for it not to be a transformative success story,” he remarked.
The project is set to kick off within the next few weeks, having already received funding to the tune of 1.2 million US dollars. NCA’s role in the project will cover three pillars for the SME contractors: capacity building, access to equipment and access to affordable financing. This is in line with the plans the Authority’s planned Construction Industry Development Fund, which aims at empowering the contractors by giving them access to low interest financing as well as loaning of machinery and equipment.