The African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Union of Railways (UIC), as well as the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), have expressed their interest in financing and supporting the Africa Integrated High-Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN) project.
Representatives of AfDB, UNECA and UIC made this commitment while speaking at the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD’s second webinar on the continental high-speed railway project, held Wednesday last week. AIHSRN seeks to facilitate the movement of goods, services and people as well as reducing transport costs and congestion through increased rail connectivity.
While the first webinar held late July focused on fast-tracking the implementation of the high-speed rail network, the second webinar was focused on financing and advocacy issues that emerged from the recommendations of the Detailed Scoping Study (DSS) for Vision 2063 African Integrated High-Speed Railway Network Project (AIHSRN).
While speaking at the webinar, Mamady Souare of AfDB affirmed the readiness of the bank to participate in the financing of the project.
“I would like to underline the Bank’s interest in this important project, as it will connect the 16 landlocked countries of Africa to the main seaports and neighbouring countries by establishing interoperability of railways across different regions; creating East-West / North-South land bridges; and interconnect African capitals and therefore the main trade and economic poles to stimulate economic growth and intra-African free trade.
“The development of the African Integrated High-Speed Railway Network will therefore greatly contribute to regional integration and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area by offering economically and environmentally responsible and sustainable solutions in terms of mobility on a continental scale, both for goods and for people,” Souare said.
Soteri Gatera of UNECA called on African leaders to ratify the Luxembourg Rail Protocol which he said removes the burden of rolling stock financing. Quoting an Oxera report, Gatera said, “Analysis on the savings in financing costs through a reduction in the weighted average cost of capital for operators of railway equipment in Africa found that the differential in financing costs from the Protocol ranges from 1.6% to 13.5% of the present value of rolling stock. “
Also speaking at the webinar, UIC Director General François Davenne declared the readiness of the global railway group to support the high-speed railway project, adding that a team of UIC international experts and other UIC-member networks were ready to collaborate for technical standardisation to make the project a reality.
AUDA-NEPAD believes the AIHSRN webinar series is an important platform for producing actionable recommendations that will contribute to realising the goal of the high-speed railway project. The AU’s development agency had at the webinar affirmed its openness to genuine ideas and partnership on AIHSRN, in line with international best practices and also in compliance with African Union’s as well as regional and national project management processes.
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