AFRICA: Private finance from customers and stakeholders is to be sought to meet at least 15% of the cost of a five-year strategic investment plan which was approved by the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority board in December.

Spending of US$211m is proposed in 2013-18, including US$177m targeted at increasing capacity.

Acting Managing Director Ronald Phiri told the board that capacity constraints are currently making it difficult to develop Tazara's business to sustainable levels, despite the availability of large volumes of import, export and local traffic. The plan envisages that annual traffic would increase from 480000 tonnes in 2013 to 1·5 million tonnes by 2018, with revenue growing from US$48m to US$122m.

'Having considered the important issues that need addressing in the next five years, we firmly believe that great prospects are in sight', said Phiri.

The plan allocates US$90m for the repair and purchase of rolling stock, US$64m for infrastructure, US$22m for staff development and US$1m for IT upgrades.

The two governments which jointly own Tazara had sought private-sector involvement in an effort to reduce their outlay on the railway, which they believe has the potential to be self-sustaining. However, the majority of the funding in 2013-18 will come from the governments, which are to agree loans with China which has supported the line since its construction.