China has selected China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) to engage in negotiations for a concession to operate the Tanzania-Zambia Railway line. This decision comes as geopolitical tensions increase over control of trading routes for crucial minerals in Africa.
CCECC, a subsidiary of the China Railway Construction Corporation, is anticipated to discuss a public-private partnership (PPP) concession, utilizing a build-operate-transfer model, with the governments of Tanzania and Zambia to manage TAZARA.
Additionally, the company is expected to undertake the upgrade of the 1,160km cross-border railway, a project that Chinese President Xi Jinping has referred to as “a symbol of China-Africa friendship,” at an estimated cost of $1 billion.
The concession is seen as a vital opportunity to rejuvenate the nearly 50-year-old line, also known as Tazara, which was originally financed by Mao Zedong’s government as a foreign aid initiative.
The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority recently announced that Chinese investors and CCECC are poised to play a significant role, and the company’s proposal is anticipated imminently.
Observers have noted that the funding for the railway underscores Beijing’s strong interest in utilizing Tazara for mining exports from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Chinese President Xi Jinping had pledged to revamp the railway during visits from Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan and Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, emphasizing China’s willingness to support the upgrading and transformation of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway in line with marketization and commercialization principles.