Trans-Kalahari Railway to move 14 million tons per annum

Chamwe Kaira

The proposed Trans-Kalahari Railway, slated for construction between Namibia and Botswana, is anticipated to facilitate the transportation of 14 million tons annually in its inaugural year of operation, with the potential to increase to 56 million tons per annum by its 30th year of service, as revealed in project tender documents.

Scheduled to commence construction in January 2025, this ambitious project comes with a multi-billion-dollar price tag. Stretching across a distance of 1500 kilometers, this railway will span from Mmamabula in Botswana to its final destination, Walvis Bay, primarily serving as a conduit for transporting coal and copper from Botswana.

The core objective of this endeavor is to establish a vital railway link connecting the two nations, facilitating the transportation of various commodities, including fuel, iron ore, copper, and coal to and from international markets.

Both Namibia and Botswana are inviting Expressions of Interest (EOI) from potential stakeholders between September 6 and November 8. Their plan is to engage an investor or developer to oversee the funding and development of this new railway corridor, which is being realized through a bilateral agreement between Botswana and Namibia.

The Trans-Kalahari Railway project is poised to yield substantial socioeconomic advantages, such as significantly enhancing the rail capacity of Botswana Railways and TransNamib Holdings Limited. Additionally, it promises to alleviate the strain on regional road infrastructure and reduce the likelihood of accidents involving heavy trucks and smaller vehicles, as freight transportation shifts from road to rail.

The railway line is expected to stimulate the construction of sidings to nearby mines and other business enterprises, including farms. Furthermore, it may serve as an alternative route for transit traffic from the Gauteng region in South Africa to overseas markets.

Namibia stands out among its regional counterparts in terms of ease of doing business, boasting a favorable investment climate. The country ranks first in quality and connectivity of road infrastructure and third in policy perception in the Fraser Institute’s annual survey of mining companies in Africa.

Botswana consistently earns acclaim as the second least corrupt country in Africa according to Transparency International. It also holds the highest credit rating on the continent and maintains a commitment to developing and enhancing core infrastructure, such as power plants, fiber optic networks, roads, and railways.

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