Rwanda, Tanzania finance ministers meet over joint railway financing

Rwanda and Tanzania Finance ministers on Monday met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to consider the finance matters regarding accomplishment of the two countries’ joint 521 kilometre Isaka-Kigali Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project, which is estimated to cost $2.5 billion.

The Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Amb. Claver Gatete and his delegation including the Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury, Caleb Rwamuganza, met with his Tanzanian counterpart, Dr. Philip Mpango and his team as a follow up to the meeting held January 20 by the countries’ Ministers for Infrastructure on the same project.

Gatete on Tuesday told The New Times That: “Yes we met but it is all work in progress and we continue to look at matters such as structure [of financing], possible partnerships, and the progress of the project.

“We are on the right track as our meeting was a follow up to that held recently by the ministers for infrastructure of Rwanda and Tanzania in Dar es Salaam. We shall continue to discuss the possible options, including partnership with the private sector and any other partners.”

Sources say the latest meeting, among others, agreed that some critical issues including feasibility studies impacting on cost be re-examined so that both countries have a clearer picture on the financial implications before charting the way forward as regards mobilising funds.

The project’s estimated total cost of $2.5 billion was made in 2015 and it is possible that there could be changes that need to be well factored in considering inflation and other economic factors.

Rwanda and Tanzania agreed on joint construction of the SGR from Isaka (northwestern Tanzania) to Kigali, to facilitate movement of goods and services, following a meeting between Presidents Paul Kagame and John Pombe Magufuli, during the former’s one-day working visit to Dar-es-Salaam, mid-January.

On January 14, the two countries’ leaders directed their ministers responsible for transport to meet within two weeks to deliberate on how to implement construction of the joint railway line.

Nearly 80 per cent of Rwanda’s imports and exports go through Tanzania.

When Ministers for Infrastructure met in Dar es Salaam, on January 20 to consider implementation of the joint project they, among others, adopted feasibility studies already conducted in the two countries, agreed that the foundation stone be laid by October, and the two countries jointly mobilizing funds for construction of the joint project with each country meeting the cost of infrastructure in its own territory.

Gatete reiterated that appropriate effort is being put in to fast-track things such that the foundation stone is laid before year end.

Earlier, the Ministers for Infrastructure adopted the proposed timeline towards implementation of the Presidents’ directives so as to lay the foundation stone by October, 2018.

Officials in both countries say the project is crucial as, once realised, it will reduce transport costs, foster physical integration of transport modes, economic growth and improved social services in the sub region, among others.

Source: NewTimes