Raila Odinga’s Dream to Make River Nile Navigable From Mediterranean Sea as He Eyes AU Chair Post

Raila Odinga goes on a boat ride on Lake Victoria in July 2023.
Raila Odinga goes on a boat ride on Lake Victoria in July 2023.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Tuesday revealed his ambition to see Africa connected through a robust infrastructure network.

Raila who is eyeing the Africa Union Commission chairperson position was speaking during a meeting with Algeria's Ambassador to Kenya Mahi Boumediene. 

He stated that one of the ways that would be achieved is through making the River Nile navigable from Uganda to the Mediterranean Sea. 

As AUC Chairperson, Raila will have sweeping executive power and a voice on how the Union uses its infrastructural budget. 

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga (right) meeting with Algeria's Ambassador to Kenya Mahi Boumediene on May 14, 2024.
Raila Odinga

Additionally, Raila knows the transport challenges in Africa having served as the African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development from 2018 to 2022. 

River Nile, one of the longest rivers in the world, is not entirely navigable due to outcropping crystalline rocks that cause huge cataracts. 

Sections between the cataracts are navigable by boats and Raila envisions making the whole 6,650-kilometre stretch navigable. 

Raila stated that Algeria and Kenya shared a similar armed war for independence and Pan-African ideals and such had similar ideas on how to make the continent great. 

He added that while Kenya and other African countries could savour ending colonialism, there was a need for something concrete to show the fruits of independence. 

“We agreed on the need to leave Africa's painful past behind and move the continent forward through trade and transformative infrastructure including Transcontinental railways, TransAfrica highways, African open skies, and making River Nile navigable from the Mediterranean Sea,” Raila stated. 

The former prime minister did not indicate if Algeria had shown a willingness to vote for him in the February 2025 elections although a statement from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) revealed that he had been extended an invite to Nigeria.

"Raila and Boumediene discussed the future of the continent and how to make it greater. Ambassador Boumediene Mahi extended an invitation to  Odinga to visit Algeria," ODM noted in a statement.

Raila already has the support of East African Community (EAC) countries as well as Ghana, Angola and Guinea Bissau. 

Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki, with President William Ruto during the opening of the Africa Fertiliser and Soil Health Summit on May 9, 2024, in Nairobi, Kenya.
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