Growth of landlocked countries depends on the growth and ability of adjacent coastal countries to put in place infrastructure for trade facilitation as a prerequisite for development, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.
Opening a one-day World Economic Forum’s Alignment Meeting on Development of Central Corridor for Eastern Africa, Kikwete said that transport corridors were game changers for regional growth and development.
“Coastal states have never fallen short of goodwill in facilitating landlocked countries. They have been putting in place supportive infrastructure because they too, are primary and secondary beneficiaries of such infrastructure,” the president told participants of the meeting, who included ministers responsible for transport and infrastructure development of Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Uganda and Tanzania.
The Central Corridor, located at a strategic geographical position, makes it a natural choice as a major trade route for countries of Eastern and Central African regions.
For many decades the port of Dar es Salaam and Tanzania’s roads and railways have served the economies of neighbouring Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC
Transit demand is forecast to increase from 2.7 million to 9.8 million tons by 2030.
Presently, Dar es Salaam port captures 14 per cent of imports and exports of these countries. As a result the throughput at the port has increased from 7.4 million tons in 2007 to 13 million tons by December 2013.
The central corridor is envisaged to transport more volumes of heavy minerals in the near future following the discovery of enormous deposits of nickel in Burundi.
According to official sources, Burundi could in the coming two to three years start exporting around 3 million tons of nickel concentrates a year.
Tanzania too expects to open two nickel mines at Kabanga and Dutwa in the northwest of the country and processing of the mineral would require importation of huge volumes of sulphur per annum.
All these volumes are expected to pass through the central corridor.
According to Kikwete, it was the difficulty of raising financing for infrastructure development that held back coastal states, particularly the least developed countries, from rising to the challenge effectively.
Also at the meeting were African Development Bank, President Donald Kaberuka, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency Chief, Ibrahim A. Mayaki, East African Community Secretary General, Richard Sezibera, Southern Africa Development Community’s Executive Secretary, Ms Stergomena Tax and Philippe Dongier, the World Bank’s Country Director for Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi.
Besides being part of preparations for the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa scheduled for 7-9 May 2014, the meeting had a a special significance to the implementation of the Priority Action Plan of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).
Kikwete has commended the joint-initiative of the WEF, the AfDB, the AU Commission and NEPAD for taking forward the agenda of infrastructure development in Africa.
He welcomed partnership with the private sector in regional infrastructure development noting that efforts to exploit joint regional financing mechanisms had also proved unsuccessful.
“I am optimistic that our regional effort to implement the Central Corridor infrastructure projects through public private partnership is now at a point of take-off and definitely will bear good results in the very near future.
“We believe that WEF strategies under this new model of Central Corridor to be the African pilot project for accelerating investments will support the current potential infrastructure projects along the corridor to secure strategic investors soon,” the president said.