Helping Kenya rise to the challenge


The LAPSSET (Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport) Corridor Program is Eastern Africa’s largest and most ambitious infrastructure flagship project which forms part of the Kenyan government Vision 2030 Strategy, a national long-term development policy that aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrialising, middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030 in a clean and secure environment.

The US$24.5 billion project aims to promote economic development by connecting a population of 160 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan. The project will help facilitate growth in Northern Kenya with a planned investment resource equivalent to half of Kenya’s GDP for the core investment alone. Long term conservative estimates highlight that the project boost GDP by 2% to 3%.

LAPSSET consists of eight key infrastructure projects:

  • a new 32 berth port at Lamu (Kenya);
  • interregional highways from Lamu to Isiolo, Isiolo to Juba (South Sudan), Isiolo to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), and Lamu to Garsen (Kenya),
  • a railway connecting Lamu, Isiolo, Moyale (on the Ethiopian border) and Nakadok on the border with south Sudan;
  • crude oil pipeline from Lamu to Isiolo, Isiolo to Juba and product oil pipeline from Lamu to Isiolo, Isiolo to Addis Ababa;
  • interregional standard gauge railway lines from Lamu to Isiolo, Isiolo to Juba, Isiolo to Addis Ababa, and Nairobi to Isiolo;
  • three international airports: Lamu, Isiolo, Lake Turkana;
  • three resort cities:  Lamu, Isiolo, Lake Turkana;
  • multipurpose High Grand Falls dam along the Tana River.

Lamu is a city on the Kenyan coast and is where several strategic LAPSSET projects come together. It represents a gateway point for LAPSSET in terms of the port, airport, and rail and road corridors.  The vision is to develop a new planned city at Lamu with long term capacity to accommodate 1.1m people anchored by the opportunities for industrial, logistics and tourism development along which can provide a platform to attract international and domestic investment and provide a hub bringing improved economic opportunities and livelihoods to Lamu.  Lamu will establish itself as a growth pole and regional centre providing a full range of services for a city of its size.  


Atkins Acuity developed a proposition with LCDA (LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority) to create a planning and investment framework to coordinate investment at Lamu,  and provide a process for aligning plans and defining a shared vision for how the area should develop.

We put the proposal to the UK Government Prosperity Fund and with funding from the FCO over a six-month period, Atkins Acuity (along with Atkins Howard Humphreys, and planners and economists from Atkins’ UK infrastructure business) worked with LCDA to develop a high-level planning and investment framework to define the economic opportunity and supporting infrastructure investments required as well as defining a practical path which can support the next steps to implementation. Environmental and social development issues and opportunities were also central to the framework to ensure the future growth of the city is inclusive and sustainable.


Through stakeholder engagement we engendered close working relationships with multiple partners and created a planning and social management framework with clear, practical advice on how to deliver this project on a phased basis.

The framework includes institutional mechanisms for planning. It defines priorities on a practical level and take a holistic approach to integrated planning for the area, covering water and power, transport, housing and community services. 

We assessed how to unlock constraints on development. For example, the environmental sensitivity of the area, looking at how the development could be located and structured to respect the natural landscape and catalyse opportunities for tourism.

Our specialists have defined the uses for the proposed SEZ (special economic zone) and how this could be structured. LCDA wishes to secure a private sector partner to develop and manage the SEZ as a PPP which would bring both finance, commercial skills and clients to the SEZ.  This is a first for Kenya for this type of project.  

The success of this project depended on:

  • Our ability to draw on engineering and environmental knowledge locally, combined with the Acuity offer in terms of in expertise on strategic planning, finance, economic planning, infrastructure, ports, transportation
  • Our local presence and the ability to gain the client’s trust to drive the project, and align stakeholders and agencies in Kenya
  • The three-way collaboration between LCDA, Atkins Acuity and UK Government.

Using our experience with other special economic zones around the world in Middle East and China, our proposal is to make this a smart city, the first of a kind in Africa.  

James Macharia, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, Republic of Kenya:

“The integrated framework prepared for Lamu by LCDA and Atkins must become the model for all other urban centres in Kenya.”

“The proposals developed will enable Lamu to be Kenya’s first planned city where everything works and where there is a platform developed to provide economic opportunities for all.”

“The partnership between Atkins, LCDA and other partners has achieved a lot within a short space of time, there is a clear path enabling us to bring further investment to Lamu. We wish to build on this momentum and drive the proposals forward.” 


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