China wants to fund USD 1 billion Tanzania-Zambia railway

The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) has unveiled a USD 1 billion plan to finance the Tanzania-Zambia railway in southern Africa.

Tanzania-Zambia railwayThe proposal, which was submitted to Zambian Transport Minister Frank Tayali, comes after technical inspection work began last December.

The CCECC was requested following a decision by the two countries last September to entrust China with the execution of the reform plan initiated several months ago. The project is for a 1,860km-long railway network, with funding to be provided by the China Development Bank.

Also financed and built by China in 1976, the railway became the main logistical link between Tanzania and Zambia and even with the Democratic Republic of Congo, but has become a wreck due to wear and tear. According to forecasts by the authority managing the infrastructure, the network is expected to carry 450 000 tonnes of freight and 3.4 million passengers.

China’s interest in the network stems from the current determination of the world’s major powers to control the supply of minerals critical to the energy transition. This rail network helps transport parts of these resources extracted from Zambia to the port of Dar es Salaam. The line will be in direct competition with the Lobito Corridor, which facilitates the transport of minerals from Zambia via Angola.

Railway line to connect countries bordering Lake Tanganyika

In addition to the Tanzania-Zambia railway, Zambia is also laying the groundwork for a railway to boost trade with other countries bordering Lake Tanganyika. The new rail link would connect the Zambian port of Mpulungu on Lake Tanganyika with the transnational Tazara rail network. It will also facilitate trade between Zambia, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

Zambian government authorities announced at the end of January 2024 the launch of a procurement procedure for the construction of a railway between a port on Lake Tanganyika and an existing rail network leading to Tanzania, with a view to boosting trade with the three countries bordering this large lake.

In its announcement, the Zambian Ministry of Transport and Logistics asked local and foreign companies to express their interest in financing, building and operating a 192-kilometre railway line. The new link will connect the port of Mpulungu at Lake Tanganyik with the transnational Tazara network (Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority), with which it will connect in the small town of Nseluka in northern Zambia, the same source said.

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