Niger's Minister of Transport Mahamadou Karidio speaking at the UIC African Rail Digital Summit (Photo: UIC).

AFRICA: The first UIC African Rail Digital Summit which was held in Cape Town on February 25-27 set out an agenda for the digital transformation of railways across the continent.

Taking as its theme ‘Africa: the continent of the digital future for rail’, the event was organised by the International Union of Railways and the African Union Development Agency. Over 100 participants from more than 20 African countries sought to identify major digital projects and to ensure support for activities planned as part of the 2040 vision for railways under the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The Summit was also intended to ‘encourage the design and development of a real African digital rail strategy’. A series of workshops covered topics that included the creation of a digital platform ‘dedicated to exchanges and sharing for the African Rail companies with UIC Africa Region and the Union of African Railways’, the implementation of new digital services based on real-time interactions with customers and the need to align the deployment of optic fibre cable for a high-speed telecommunications network with ‘the realisation of the rail network’. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Executive Secretary of the African Union Development Agency, said that ‘the modernisation and extension of rail networks will not be possible without new digital technologies, a key element of intelligent transport’. He also said that ‘The African Integrated High Speed Railway Network was one of the flagship projects of the African Union’s Agenda 2063’; Africa’s first high speed line was inaugurated between Tanger and Kénitra in November last year. UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux said that UIC ‘believes in rail as a backbone of mobility for our new societies’, that the ‘digital revolution’ can improve rail’s ‘rapidity, reactivity and connectivity’ and ‘believes in Africa and its young generations to create the railways of the future’. The Summit was attended by transport ministers from South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Niger and by delegates from Europe, Australia, China and Indonesia.