Friday, July 12, 2024

The rail projects that will revolutionize transport in Africa


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Africa is a continent to watch as far as infrastructure development is concerned. With huge natural resources, Infrastructure remains a missing link for Africa development. 

This article looks at rail projects that will revolutionize transport in Africa and catapult the continent to new economic heights:

Afrail Express high-speed rail network

Construction of the Afrail Express High Speed Rail Phase One will begin in May 2024 at multiple sites in different countries and will start operations between certain inter cities by 2033, to connect major cities in Africa at a speed of 431km/h, to transport passengers to their desired destinations faster and safer, at affordable costs.

The First Phase of the Afrail Express high-speed rail network will connect Cape Town to Casablanca via Windhoek, Luanda, Lusaka, Kinshasa, Lagos and Dakar, then from Casablanca to Cairo via Tripoli, and lastly from Cairo to Cape Town via Nairobi, Kigali, Harare, Gaborone, and Johannesburg, forming a safe passageway, which covers nearly 80% of the African population, all to be connected by Afrail Express Maglev high-speed rail network.

When fully operational, Afrail Express will completely revolutionize transport in Africa serving over 600 million paying passengers between different cities and countries in Africa every week in the highest safety and performance standards, and courier over 500 million paid packages weekly, effecting a creation of the largest advanced industrial ecosystem development in Africa of more than 50 million job opportunities.

Trans-Kalahari Rail and Port project

The proposed Trans-Kalahari Rail and Port project would provide a new rail line from the coal basins in Botswana to a new coal terminal at the Walvis Bay port in Namibia thereby enabling the export of currently untapped coal reserves in Botswana.

The proposed rail connection would be in excess of 1,500km and the total cost for the project was estimated at $10 billion for the rail and port infrastructure.

The project is at tendering stage and work is expected to start in 2025.

Lobito Corridor Trade Facilitation Project

The project entails the construction of approximately 550 km of rail line in Zambia, from the Jimbe border to Chingola in the Zambian copper belt, along with 260 km of feeder roads within the corridor.

The project is meant to ease the movement of people and goods with improved services, reduce travel times and eventually encourage cost reduction associated with moving freight and passengers along the corridor. Upon completion experts believe the project will revolutionize transport in Africa in a great way.

The United States has been supporting the project that links resource-rich Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia to the port of Lobito in Angola to bypass logistics bottlenecks in South Africa that have held up exports of copper and cobalt.

Ethiopia Sudan Railway

The project involves the construction of a 1512-km standard gauge railway connecting Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Khartoum in Sudan, with an extension to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

The proposed route is Addis Ababa-Awash-Kombolcha-Weldiya-Wereta-Gonder-Metema-Galabat-Gadarif-Kassala-Haiya-Port of Sudan.

 Feasibility study is being carried out by CPCS Transcom Limited.

SADC Trade and Transit Facilitation Project

The overall objective of the project is to facilitate the movement of goods and people along the North-South Corridor, and at key border posts, whilst supporting the development of railway infrastructure in the region.

The specific objectives are to:(i) to enhance trade and transport facilitation especially on major selected corridors and strengthening Strengthen enforcement capacity of customs and border agencies in SADC;(ii) Development of regional customs interconnectivity frameworks and interfaces; and(iv) Support the development of an efficient regional railway system.

The project target area includes all the sixteen (16)Member States and the trade catchment areas of three out of eight corridors in SADC region (i.e., Northern South Corridor, Walvis-Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Corridor, and Nacala Corridor).

The project intervention also interlinks three other SADC transport corridors namely, Nacala, Beira and Mtwara in Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.

The direct beneficiaries of the project are the populations of about 160 million people of selected corridors, businesses, and industries in the SADC countries.

The proposed interventions will directly impact the project beneficiaries, via improved trade facilitation, reduction in costs of trading as well as creation of business opportunities in the medium to long term.

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