Train services in most African countries were introduced by colonial countries not necessarily to ease transport but to easily move resources, mostly minerals and badly needed agricultural goods to seaports.
Most rail networks were designed to move merchandise and many, after the end of colonization, went to ruin as is witnessed in many countries.
Rwanda was not part of any network, neither was Burundi as the Belgians never saw any financial gains as was the case in neighbouring Congo.
Today, the need for efficient inter-market links makes it imperative to ease cost of doing trade and reducing the use of more expensive overland trucking.
Rwanda’s deal with Tanzania to bring the Standard Gauge Railway comes in at a crucial moment and will cement the integration agenda that is at the apex of the East African Community.
But sadly, the rail services, that in other developed countries were driven by the private sector in more developed countries, have had to wait for central governments’ interventions to get off the ground.
The Isaka–Kigali rail link will be just the beginning, at the cost over two billion dollars, it will put a lot of strain on governments that still have a lot of ground to cover in improving the livelihoods of their populations.
This is an opportunity for the private sector to step in, giving a boost to the government’s initiative and spreading the network to other regions of the country.
Easing transport services will in the long run create more efficient and lucrative business and the private sector should not be left behind.