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Rehabilitating a Derailed African Rail Project

Half a century ago, the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (Tazara) stood out as a crucial symbol of Africa’s struggle for independence. The 1,860km-long railway connects Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia with Dar es Salaam at the Indian Ocean. In August 2022, Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema made his first visit as head of state to Tanzania. After meetings with his counterpart Samia Suluhu Hassan, they announced that the two governments had agreed to rehabilitate Tazara. They sought to upgrade its tracks from Cape gauge (1,067mm) to standard gauge (1,435mm) through a public-private partnership. An upgrade to standard gauge would enable the Uhuru railway to interlink with Tanzania’s new standard gauge railway. The standard gauge tracks have meanwhile reached the Dodoma region. Contracts for extensions to Tabora and Mwanza have already been awarded. An inter-governmental agreement between Rwanda and Tanzania to build a line from Isaka (on the Tabora-Mwanza route) to Kigali was signed in 2018. Further connections to Burundi, the DRC and Uganda are planned.