China is reportedly planning to invest over USD 1 billion to upgrade the Tanzania-Zambia Railway.
As it happens, Beijing has chosen China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to negotiate a concession to operate the 50-year-old Tanzania-Zambia Railway line, as geopolitical tensions rise over the control of trading routes for critical minerals in Africa.
The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is a subsidiary of the China Railway Construction Corporation.
Now CCECC is expected to negotiate a public-private partnership (PPP) concession in the form of a build-operate-transfer model with the governments of Tanzania and Zambia to operate the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA).
The firm is also expected to upgrade the 1,160 kilometers cross-border railway at an estimated cost of 1 billion US Dollars.
TAZARA is the multinational transport infrastructure which the Chinese President Xi Jinping has described to be ‘a symbol of China-Africa friendship.’
The concession is expected to give a much-needed lifeline to the almost 50-year-old line linking the Port of Dar-es-salaam in Tanzania with Kapiri Mposhi Town of Zambia.
The Tanzania-Zambia Railway built during the Mwalimu Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda era, was originally funded by Mao Zedong’s government as a foreign aid project.
In October 2023, the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority broke the news, saying Chinese investors and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation were poised to play a significant role, hence the company’s proposal was ‘expected imminently.’
Some observers believe that the funding for the railway must have something to do to Beijing’s keen interest in using the TAZARA corridor for shipping mining exports from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping promised to overhaul the railway line when the Tanzanian Head of State, Samia Suluhu Hassan visited China in the course of 2022.
Xi reaffirmed his position again during Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema’s visit to Beijing in 2023.
“China is willing to support the upgrading and transformation of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway in accordance with the principles of marketization and commercialisation,” Xi said when he met Hichilema.
Also known as the Uhuru Railway or the TanZam Railway, which links the port of Dar es Salaam along the Indian Ocean Coastline with the town of Kapiri-Mposhi in Zambia’s Central Province, TAZARA is single-track railway measuring 1,860 kilometers long and is operated by the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority.