Rwanda and Tanzania this week took another step towards making the Standard Gauge Railway dream a reality. With the feasibility studies done with, the ground breaking was slated for some time in October.
The timeline has not changed, only the design. Originally it had been decided to use diesel locomotives, but with the need to reduce pollution and the time it takes to move from Dar es Salaam and Kigali, it has now been decided to switch to electric engines.
Apart from the environmental gains, passenger trains under the previous diesel regime would have been traveling at a speed of 120 kmh and cargo trains at 80kmh. With the new upgrade to electric power, the speeds on the 1,320 kilometre stretch will increase to 160 and 120kmh respectively.
It is an expensive venture that will cost an estimated $2.5 billion, but the returns in the long run will mitigate the costs as transport time and costs will reduce from the cost.
Changing the design of the project at the last hour is an indication that our leaders are ready to listen and adapt to new trends. Diesel is being downgraded to the bottom ladder while electric locomotion is the new kid on the block.
Rwanda has always been keen to keep up with technological developments and smart solutions, and as the main driver of Smart Africa initiative, it should be ready to open new frontiers where others hesitate. At the end of the date it will pay off, as we see in the many successful gambles it has made.
Is it also time for it to take on the new 5G network infrastructure that comes with many more capabilities as we drive this country smartly? Can’t wait.