UK plans African transport network

At a time when China and other nations are investing heavily in African infrastructure projects, the United Kingdom is planning a US$1 billion rebuilding of the transport network across the southern part of the continent, the Guardian reported. The scheme aims to reverse decades of decay in large parts of the road and rail systems.


An agreement with eight African countries and the World Bank covers the reconstruction of 8,500 kilometres of roads and the rejuvenation of 600 kilometres of railways, including some new track and the upgrading of border posts.


The initiative is part of a web of large-scale investments and reconstruction plans across the continent in recent years. Massive Chinese construction programmes have unnerved western countries, which fear loss of trade and influence in Africa.


Britain’s international development minister, Gareth Thomas, said a north-south corridor initiative would rebuild the transport infrastructure in six former British colonies – Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa – as well as with two close trading partners, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Initially, Britain is expected to put about $100 million into the project. It will focus on linking inland trade routes with ports in Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa. China already has had a major impact in African countries, including Mozambique, where it has built thousands of kilometres of new roads. Other recent initiatives have revived part of the region’s railway network.


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