A TEAM of experts from Japan is expected in Tanzania to conduct needs assessment for improvement of the central railway line, the Minister for Industry and Trade, Dr Abdallah Kigoda, has revealed.
"The team will arrive in the country before the end of this year or early next year. Implementation of the project may take long but this is normal with projects as big as the central railway line," Dr Kigoda told the 'Daily News' in a telephone interview in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.
Dr Kigoda explained that development of Tanzania's ports and the railway line are among major issues that were discussed between President Jakaya Kikwete and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) held in June, this year.
"Revamping the central line to international gauge requires massive investments to the tune of 5.2 billion US dollars, the experts will assess the economies of the network among others," he elaborated. Japan has unveiled a comprehensive technical cooperation plan with Tanzania to make the latter a major economic hub for business and investment in Africa.
Visiting Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industries, Toshimistu Motegi informed President Kikwete on Saturday that he had been sent by Premier Abe to visit Tanzania for implementation of agreements reached at the TICAD V.
The Japanese minister also announced that his country had nominated Tanzania the centre for investment to serve the East African region and the continent at large. Among the projects lined up for implementation include refurbishment of the central linerailway network which will be replaced with the international gauge. Another project is expansion of the Port of Dar es Salaam to help increase efficiency in service delivery.
Among other extensive investments is the cultivation of cotton for textile industries, which will be established in the country as well. "A company from Japan called Mitsui has already expressed interests to develop berth number 1 to 7 at the port of Dar es Salaam to improve efficiency at the port," Dr Kigoda said.
There are also plans to set up assembling plants for products manufactured in Japan and also empower Tanzanians to develop and establish small and medium enterprises and this is expected to create jobs for Tanzanians.
Two companies from the Asian country have shown interest in making investments in Tanzania. They are Honda, which plans to set up an assembling plant for motorcycles, and the electronic appliances conglomerate Panasonic, which also wants to have an assembling plant in the country.
There are about 4.6 million small and medium enterprises in Japan, which employ almost 70 per cent of the working population there, with 3.2 million being small enterprises, according to Dr Kigoda.