Donor Round-table on Tanzania-Rwanda-Burundi Railway Project Ends on Positive Note in Tunis

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A donor round-table on the Tanzania-Rwanda-Burundi railway project that started on Monday, March 16, 2009, ended on Tuesday in Tunis, Tunisia, on a positive note as the project was found “technically and financially viable.” Organized by the governments of the three countries involved with support from the Bank Group, the event brought together some 65 participants, especially economy and finance ministers, as well as transportation and infrastructure ministers from the three countries, development partners, private sector representatives, in particular, mining and armoring companies, operators and investors in free trade zones. The cost of realizing the railway project is estimated at US$ 3.5 billion.

Speaking during the round-table on behalf of the three partnering countries, Tanzania’s Infrastructure Minister, Kawambwa Shukuru, reaffirmed the countries’ commitment to implement the project. He called for the full involvement of development partners and private sector representatives in the project’s implementation. “Our three governments are committed to furthering the various options of the project, working closely with the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group,” he said.

Bank Group Operations Vice President, Zeinab El-Bakri, speaking on behalf of the AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, commended the ownership of the project by stakeholders and the three governments, highlighting  the Bank Group’s role in supporting its implementation. “The outcome and resolutions adopted at this round-table provide us with the answer to the question on how to move the project forward,” she underscored, adding that “The Bank Group stands ready to support you in building this partnership and play a leading role in the downstream financing and implementation of this important regional infrastructure project.”

The round-table was designed to drum up support for the three countries in their efforts to develop concrete and proper responses to processes that can help open up the Isaka-Kigali/Keza-Musogati regions through low-cost access to the Dar-es-Salaam port in Tanzania.

The railway connection falls within the framework of a multinational transportation programme designed to develop areas rich in mining, agricultural, industrial and commercial resources in the three countries. The project’s feasibility study undertaken with AfDB support, underscores the project’s technical, economic and environmental viability. Given its complexity and huge financing requirements, the study recommended an implementation model along the lines of a public-private partnership (PPP). The two-day round-table made it possible to share the study’s findings with stakeholders interested in the project’s development and implementation. It also served as a platform for harnessing their opinions and advice on the way forward.