Electrified Railway Project to Save Burundi About $70 Million Annually, Country's Minister Says
© AFP 2023 ERICKY BONIPHACECarriages for the Tanzania's Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project are unloaded as Tanzania received 14 economy class carriages of South Korean company Sung Shin Rolling Stock (SSRT) at the port in Dar es Salaam on November 25, 2022.
© AFP 2023 ERICKY BONIPHACE
Improving regional connectivity was one of the pressing issues on the agenda of the Africa Investment Forum. Among the infrastructure projects at the event, which was held in Morocco's capital Marrakesh on November 8-10, was the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), which is to link Tanzania, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) will save Burundi at least $70 million of transport costs per year and about $100 per tonne, the country's Infrastructure Minister Dieudonne Dukundane said at the panel session of the African Investment Forum in Morocco.
"With a railway in place, it will help us to save nearly $100 per tonne and if you are running a business of nearly a million tonnes per year, you understand that we will be saving not less than $70 million only by using railway," the minister noted.
In addition, Dukundane highlighted that without a railway, the country would have lost nearly $1 billion in a 10-year period, "which exactly the amount that is needed to build a railway."
"Failing to invest in the Standard Gauge Railway has been costly to our economy," he stressed.
Moreover, Dukundane emphasized the importance of the initiative in terms of intra-Africa trade, noting that without such infrastructure projects the continent will "continue to depend on the rest of the world in terms of international trade."
"Africa has no choice. If we are to go continental. If we are to really embark on the free trade continental area with its benefits across the continent, it is not an alternative. Actually, if we don't do so, Africa will continue to depend on the rest of the world in terms of international trade because so far it makes it easier or less costly to transact with China or America while the intra-African trade is still at a very low level. And we believe that this experience [SGR project] [...] will transform Africa," the minister explained.
Recently, an agreement between Tanzania and Burundi regarding the construction of the of 282 kilometers SGR, which will connect the two states, was reached.
The SGR project aims to facilitate transportation of millions of tonnes of cargo annually, including minerals, between the Tanzanian city of Uvinza and Burundi's capital Gitega. Apart from this, the railway will provide connection between the Tanzania's port Dar es Salaam, the eastern DRC, Zambia, Rwanda and Uganda.
According to local media, a railway section of about 156 kilometers will be built by Tanzania, while Burundi will construct another one, of 126 kilometers. The project is expected to be implemented within five years.