The World Bank is set to unlock $600 million for an infrastructure project to facilitate trade in East and Central Africa and provide an alternative route to the sea for Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"We are talking about improving infrastructure along the Central Corridor, specifically Lake Tanganyika," said East Africa Community Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko.
It will improve the transportation of goods coming from Dar es Salaam by railway to Kigoma, from where "it can be shipped to Bujumbura or Kalemi and Uvira. This project will improve infrastructure in Tanzania, Burundi and DR Congo," he added.
According to the EAC Secretariat, the new infrastructure project will cut the cost of transporting goods from Dar es Salaam port by 40 per cent.
More than 50 million people living around Lake Tanganyika are expected to benefit from the new project. For instance, 80 per cent of Burundi's imports come through the Central Corridor from Dar es Salaam.
"It was the aspiration of the people of East Africa to come together and tackle the problems of their people by providing the necessary facilities," said Kirunda Kivejinja Uganda's Second Deputy Prime Minister and the chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers.
The Community is expected to invest more than $10 billion within the next 10 years, mainly in infrastructure projects. The standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi is already complete. When fully complete it is expected to join up Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
Alternative routes of transporting goods from the ports will see a cut in the cost and time of transporting goods within the region and trigger a decline in consumer prices.
Non-tariff barriers have been a major challenge for the East African Community in easing the free movement of goods in the region, transporters and traders say almost every month a new NTB is introduced.
Dar es Salaam port receives three million tonnes of goods annually for the EAC, but the quantity is expected to rise after the new railway is completed.