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Mutorwa ties railway to trade in Africa

2023-09-13  John Muyamba

Mutorwa ties railway to trade in Africa

RUNDU – If Namibia is to reap maximum returns from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), it has to invest heavily in railway infrastructure, works minister John Mutorwa has said. 

He was referring to the envisaged railway lines to transport goods from the Port of Walvis Bay to the rest of Africa and vice versa.

“We don’t have any alternative if we are talking about inter-Africa continental trade; those are the facilities that we need,” he said during a media briefing at Rundu last week.

The minister was responding to questions regarding the latest development on the envisaged railway line, stretching from Grootfontein to Katima Mulilo.

The railway will connect to neighbouring countries of Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe and, alternatively, to other African countries via SADC. 

The AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area, bringing together the 55 countries of the African Union (AU) and eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs). 

The overall mandate of the AfCFTA is to create a single continental market with a population of about 1.3 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of approximately US$ 3.4 trillion.

“As per the request of the African Development Bank, we have completed the feasibility study, which shows whether this railway line will be economically, socially and environmentally feasible. That feasibility study was concluded last year already,” he said.

Cabinet has since approved the feasibility study. 

“The conclusions of the feasibility study consultants are that this railway line, if everything, as recommended, is implemented, is viable. They have done the environmental assessment studies also, looking at the environment and how that railway line will impact the environment here and through the game park,’’ he said.

Now, the big issue from here on is the funding, he said, noting: “The ministry of finance is more in the lead now but we are also there to see how we are going to fund this because it is not only a Namibian railway line. Just like the Trans-Zambezi Highway, the railway line will connect us to other countries. Immediately, it’s Zambia through the Wenela border post, linking us all the way to DRC; Botswana through Ngoma border post through Kasane and linking up with Zimbabwe,’’ he said. 

The minister continued: “So, where we are is for the three countries in particular to now have meetings with ministers of finance of Namibia, Zambia and Botswana and ministers of transport also, together with our experts to now look at the various modes of generating finance,” Mutorwa informed the media. 

“All I can say is that if the road is expensive, the railway line is even more expensive, but these are projects you put in place not only for today, but it is for tomorrow and all the years to come. If you look at the existing railway line in Namibia, for example, when was it constructed? It was during the time of the Germans.

“But we are still using this railway line, so it will not be cheap,” Mutorwa said.  -  


2023-09-13  John Muyamba

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