AFRICA: Plans to build a rail link between Tanzania and Burundi are expected to move forward following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two governments on January 16.

The 282 km route would diverge from the Tabora – Kigoma branch of Tanzania’s embryonic 1 435 mm gauge network at Uvinza and run north to Burundi’s new capital at Gitega, around 40 km east of Bujumbura. Provisionally expected to cost at least US$900m, the line would give the landlocked country rail access to Tanzania’s Indian Ocean port of Dar es Salaam.

Following the meeting of the two countries’ finance and transport ministers in Kigoma, Tanzania’s Finance Minister Mwigulu Nchemba said they had agreed to work together to raise the necessary funds to build for the railway. However, he did not indicate any potential sources of financing.

Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania have been in discussions since 2008 over the development of rail links to serve the two landlocked countries, with Rwanda also looking at a northern route to Kenya via Uganda. Last year the government of Burundi announced it was seeking funding for a 190 km branch off the planned Isaka – Kigali line between Tanzania and Rwanda which would run west to Musongati at an estimated cost of US$1·9bn.