18 January 2010

East Africa: Planned U.S.$900 Billion Railway Answer to EAC Development

editorial

As regional integration kicks into gear, many ideas and projects are being mooted that will make East Africa, potentially one of the best investment destinations in the world.

One of them is The East African Community (EAC) railway network whose master plan has been finalized and is set to cost a total of $900 billion.

The money for the project is expected to be drawn from development partners and regional banks among others. The network will include development of a standard gauge railway line between Kampala in Uganda and Mombasa in Kenya, Dar es Salaam to Kigali and Bujumbura. It will connect local towns and the regions major cities passing through agricultural, mining, tourist and trade routes.

When and not if the project is implemented, it will boost trade, tourism, transport, production, investment and subsequently development in the region.

Working under the aegis of regional integration this railway and infrastructure development will certainly stimulate the region's competitiveness and to exploit economies of scale through massive production for the region's 120 million people.

The railway system in East Africa is as old as colonialism but has since gone to the dogs because of mismanagement, corruption and government inefficiency.

It is believed and hopefully so, that the new system will be run professionally using modern best practices and efficient world class systems. But certainly, it will be affordable and will mainly help transform the rural communities who cannot afford the dear and inaccessible road and air transport system.

The region needs to study two classic world railway systems which are very near to us. The South African railway network Transnet (previously known as Spoornet) and the Indian railway system. Therein lies a system tried on efficiency and numbers.

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