Tanzania Signs US$1.32 Billion Railway Deal With China

railroad
Credit: Construction Review Online

Tanzania has entered into a $1.32 billion contract with China for the construction of its standard gauge railway. The deal was signed between President John Magufuli with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who was on a state visit. 

China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation and China Railway Construction Limited won the contract which will see them build a 341 km link to connect the Lake Victoria port city of Mwanza in the north to the town of Isaka, on the way to the Indian Ocean port of Dar es Salaam.

In an interview, President Magufuli revealed that “my discussions with Mr. Wang Yi included how Tanzania can take full advantage of China’s 1.5 billion population, as the ideal market to sell our abundant agriculture produce, such cashew nuts, tea, coffee, fish, and cotton.”

President Magufuli also used Mr. Wang’s visit to press China to scrap Tanzania’s long-standing debts including $137 million for the construction of living quarters for Tanzanian military officers and $15 million for building the now-dilapidated Urafiki textile factory in Dar es Salaam, the East African reported. 

According to The East African, the Chinese minister also pledged $150,000 to support the expansion of a vocational training centre in President Magufuli’s hometown of Chato, and another $20,000 to boost fishing activities in the Lake Victoria zone. Tanzania is looking to tap into China’s huge market through reciprocal import and export trade, even as China makes diplomatic inroads on the continent.

As African countries explore viable ways of rebooting their economies out of a global pandemic, is it still prudent for them to enter such infrastructural contracts with Beijing?

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