Africa needs $50 billion for additional rail infrastructure
Posted Thursday, February 14 2013 at 15:43
A Pan-African bank has said Africa will need to spend more than 50 billion U.S dollars in the next decade on building 4, 000 kilometers of additional railway which continues to be the main challenge in exploiting the continent's vast deposits of bulk commodities, the Post of Zambia reported on Thursday.
Standard Bank, which is headquartered in South Africa and is among the top four biggest banks in that country, said revamping the railway network could form a catalyst to unlock bulk mineral resource potential for the continent. "As mining activities in key regions expand, mining output is starting to exceed existing rail capacity despite ongoing efforts to upgrade and maintain these rail links. Inadequate rail networks are limiting the economic potential of some of these commodity hotspots on the continent. Despite this enthusiasm, the ability to fully exploit these resources is limited by infrastructure constraints," David Humphrey, the bank's global sector head power and infrastructure was quoted as saying by the paper.
According to him, the bulk commodity mining sector in west Africa and Mozambique in particular, which hold significant reserves of iron ore, manganese and coal, is expected to drive further investment in railways in these areas in the next decade, adding that governments face the challenge of overcoming legacy infrastructure problems. The Zambian government recently released a 120 million dollars grant to a state-rail firm, Zambia Railways, to enable it rehabilitate its network of about 980 kilometers. Zambia, Africa's largest copper producer, exports the bulk of its copper through the Port of Durban in South Africa but most mining companies transport the metal by road because the railway network has been unreliable, posing a strain on the country's roads.