Back to Africa Check

Increase the paved road network from the current 11,000km (7%) to 24,000km (15%) in five years

Kenya had 11,230 kilometres of bitumen roads in 2013, according to data in the 2014 Statistical Abstract published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. This closely matches the 11,000 figure used in the 2013 Jubilee manifesto.

However, significant variations in official data mean that confirming the length, or type, of road government has built is not straightforward.

The most recent figures published in the 2018 Economic Survey show that Kenya had 20,600 km of bitumen roads in 2017. This would mean the length of this type of paved roads has increased by 9,400 km.

However, Kenyatta’s 2017 election manifesto says his administration built 1,950 kilometres of paved road from 2013 to 2017.

In 2016, the agency had the tarmac road network at 14,500 km, suggesting 6,100 km of road was added in just one year. (Note: In the same year the statistics office also has a figure of 11,796 km of tarmac road, published in the 2017 Statistical Abstract.)

We checked sector reports filed with Kenya’s national treasury and found that the data was incoherent.

Treasury reports on new road built between 2013/14-2018/19
Financial year Kilometres of road built Cost (KSh billion)
2013/14 366 31.6
2014/15 471 (494)* 42.3 (48)
2015/16 463 33.2
2016/17 725 58.2
2017/18 1,200 52
2018/19 2,014 54.2

*The October 2015 report shows 494 kilometres in 2014/15, but the January 2018 report shows 471 kilometres

Interestingly, as the length of paved road increased between the fiscal years 2016/17 and 2018/19, the money spent on building it dropped from KSh58.2 billion in 2016/17 to KSh52 billion in 2017/18, before rising to KSh54.2 billion in 2018/19.

This indicates that 2,014 kilometres of road was built in 2018/19 at a lower cost than building 725 kilometres in 2016/17, three years earlier and despite inflation.

In a further twist, the statistics office’s most recent economic survey shows that from 2015 to 2019, the paved road network increased from 13,033 kilometres to 21,295 kilometres – a jump of 8,261 kilometres in just three years. 

The source of the survey’s data is given as the Kenya Roads Board. We have repeatedly asked the agency to explain the difference, and will update this report when they respond.  

So far, we have found no coherent data to verify the progress on this pre-election pledge. – Africa Check, Last updated August 2020.

For reading our fact-checks!

Did you know that our work is free to read and share? Support our work to continue reading.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.