The first Central Corridor Development Acceleration Program Presidential Round Table (PRT) was held in Dares Salaam on 25th March 2015. It was followed by an Industry and Investors Forum on 26th March 2015. Both events were held at the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre.
The PRT was attended by the chief convener H.E Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Chairperson of the EAC Summit of Heads of State, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E Pierre Nkrunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi. H.E Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda attended the Indurty and Investors forum. DR Congo was represented by Hon. Justin Kalumba Mwanangongo, Minister for Transport and Communication Ways and Chair of the Council of Ministers, while Kenya invited at the level of Head of state as an Observer, was represented by Hon. Amina Mohammed, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
The Central Corridor Development Acceleration Program is one of the 51 projects approved for development last year by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It involves constructing and improving infrastructure, especially railway tracks, roads and ports linking the Dar es Salaam Port to land-linked neighbouring countries, namely Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo and Uganda.
In his keynote address, President Kikwete said that the region has yet to exploit its socio-economic potential to the fullest due to under-developed infrastructure, adding that implementation of agreed upon decisions by regional leaders remains a challenge due to financing mechanisms. With this new approach to financing infrastructure programmes in the region, he added that no tax payers¡¯ money would be used since the projects would be operated under a syndicated deal with investors recouping their investments through a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) model for a period of time to be agreed upon with implementing Governments.
He said that whereas it is an obligation for Tanzania, which takes up a bigger chunk of the projects due to its strategic location, to facilitate access to the sea for land-linked neighbours, the initiative is an opportunity for the country to further the already made impressive improvements under the "Big Results¡± Now (BRN) initiative. He cited the performance of the Tanzania Ports Authority which used to offload 9.2 million tonnes in 2010 but had risen to 14 million tonnes by 2014 and projected to rise to 18 million tonnes by the end of this year.
In his speech, President Museveni pointed out that transport covers 40 per cent of the cost of doing business in Africa—higher than the cost of electricity (20 per cent), capital (20 per cent), labour (10 per cent) and red tape (10 per cent). He cited the example of the Northern Corridor that runs from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to the Great Lakes that Uganda uses most, saying it now cost US $ 3,200 to transport one container. He, however, added that the cost of ferrying the same cargo will drop to US$ 1,650 once the new standard gauge railway on the Northern Corridor is completed- saving the roads from further destruction in the process. He implored Tanzania to do its own research in this regard as efforts to emancipate the people of the region gain centre stage.
President Museveni specifically wanted to know how and where the DR Congo will get inter-connected to these EAC transport corridors. He tasked the Ugandan Ministers present, Hon. Shem Bageine- Minister of State for EAC Affairs and Hon. Stephen Chebrot- State Minister for Transport to interface with the DR Congo delegation to address/clarify on these important inter-connections. He suggested that DR Congo could connect with the Northern SGR from Kasese and Arua/Aru.
In his remarks, EAC Secretary General, Amb. Richard Sezibera, said the future of the project was bright as the World Bank had just approved $450 million, $20 million of which would be used to build One-Stop Centres in three automated weighbridges at Vigwaza in Coast Region, Manyoni in Singida Region and Nyakahura in Kagera Region.
Other speakers included representatives from institutions such as the African Development Bank, NEPAD Agency, the World Economic Forum and Development Bank of Southern Africa. The leaders who attended the opening session toured the Tanzania Railway Company Headquarters and flagged-off block trains to Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.
Projects under Phase 1
Twenty Two (22) projects have been identified for presentation to potential investors during Phase I of the corridor development program. The projects cover sectors including ports, inland ports, roads and rail across the five (5) Countries. It is envisaged these will help unlock land-linked countries as well as stimulate growth in various industries such as cotton, fisheries, and coffee. Two projects involving Uganda have been identified and packaged during Phase I of the acceleration process for presentation to potential private financiers and development partners during the investors¡¯ forum. These are:
a)Kyotera-Mutukula Road: Rehabilitating the existing road to appropriate bitumen standards with estimated cost of USD 38m.The project links the main markets and production areas in Uganda to the Central Corridor. Roll-out time is 24 months.
b)Navigability of the Kagera River: A transnational project to link Rwanda and Uganda expected to cost USD 30m with the upgrading of Port Bell and Jinja Pier as main components for Uganda. With a roll-out time of 36 months, the project includes replacement of MV Kabalega to improve shipping of goods across Lake Victoria mainly between PortBell and Mwanza.