The Minister of Infrastructure, Vincent Karega, has revealed that the EAC railway network partners are currently searching for the much needed private investments into the region’s ambitious railway project.
This comes after Tanzanian President and current Chair of the EAC Summit of Heads of State, Jakaya Kikwete, recently stressed that the absence of effective participation of the private sector was a matter of concern.
Kikwete was opening a regional conference on the East African railways system in Dar es Salaam last week.
“We shall continue to mobilize both private capital and donor funding through multilateral funding agencies,” Karega told The New Times.
“Regarding the Tanzania, Burundi and Kigali (Rwanda) railway, we have engaged the process of recruitment for an international firm to manage and market the railway project,” Karega added.
During the meeting, President Kikwete noted that the economic bloc needed over US$ 20bn to upgrade the existing railway network.
The conference agreed on strategies to revitalize railway systems in the bloc. A set of 12 recommendations included a proposal for an EAC Railways Regulatory Authority to coordinate the sub-sector.
It recommended that sufficient funds be invested in rehabilitating the current railways operations for the short term, while concurrently preparing the construction of the standard gauge railways.
Also recommended was the establishment of a Marshall-like Plan for the revitalization of the EAC Railways underpinned by a core team that includes, Ministers responsible for Infrastructure and Finance; the EAC Secretary General; World Bank; African Development Bank; Chairman EABC; European Union; and JICA.
While closing the conference Friday, Tanzania’s Minister for Infrastructure Development, Dr. Shukuru Kawambwa, reaffirmed the importance of the East African Railway Master Plan.
He noted that if only 10 percent EAC’s freight were moved by rail it would transform into huge savings in fuel, lead to a significant reduction in emissions and reduce road traffic congestion.
According to the Master Plan, upgrading the region’s network is expected to cost up to USD 35.5 billion, of which 75 percent would have to be financed by the public sector.
One of the multinational projects being undertaken in collaboration with Rwanda and Burundi is the upgrading and construction of the Dar es Salaam – Isaka – Kigali/Keza – Gitega – Musongati railway line.