THIS YEAR’S TransAfrica 21 conference, organised on May 8-10 in London by GlobalSA Ltd within the Africa Investment Forum promotional framework, treated delegates to a range of contrasting views on ways to privatise or restructure their railways.

With concessioning and privatisation starting to bear fruit in several African countries, investment is flowing again, albeit slowly. Among countries where railways are being rehabilitated is Malawi, where the Central East African Railways joint venture includes US operator Railroad Development Corp. Negotiations for the concessionaire to run the line through to Nacala in Mozambique are expected to be concluded later this year.

Further to the south, major investment is planned on Mozambique’s badly war-damaged route from Moatize, Dona Ana and Inhamitanga to Dondo and the port of Beira. Executive Board Director of Mozambique Ports & Railways Eng Miguel Jose Matabel told delegates that a total of US$342m is needed to complete rebuilding of the 760 km route. If the funds can be found, there is potential to ship large tonnages of coal from Moatize to Beira for export, although this will require two phases of investment at the port requiring around US$120m.