The East African Community (EAC) railway conference will discuss how the private sector can contribute to have a stronger railway network.
The two-day conference which kicks off next week in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania will also highlight current plans for existing and development of new railways.
It will also comment on the master plan and appraise the conference on individual country plans, their status, and how they fit in with the EAC Railway Master Plan, including arrangements for financing.
According to Infrastructure Minister Vincent Karega, the meeting is timely since it will be discussing the costing implications and the regulatory framework of developing the railway network.
“The Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement is important especially now that it has become difficult for countries to secure enough funding for the project,” he said in an interview yesterday.
During the conference, the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic (AICD) Report on African Railways will be unveiled to provide an overview of the challenges facing railways in Africa, from unfair inter-modal competition, to limited markets and poor governance and regulations.
In an EAC statement, the report, sponsored by the World Bank, will help in establishing the basic requirements of a successful Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in railways in Africa, as well as show how existing concessions have been successfully restructured to secure an equitable financing of future rail operators’ investment needs (infrastructure and rolling stock).
Karega decried the poor state of the current railway system, highlighting that it is too old-fashioned to match with the current trade competitiveness in the region.
“The one in Tanzania is a hundred years old and it’s not reaching the destinations it should be serving.
Goods have to be offloaded and this involves a lot of risks, time and costs,” the Minister said.
EAC Director of Planning and Infrastructure Philip Wambugu said that the views and knowledge from the conference will need to be used to develop not only railways but, more importantly, multimodal transport policies that can ensure maximum efficiency and sustainability of future railways infrastructure investments in the EAC Partner States.