On November 2, the Chipata-Petauke-Serenje Railway Project Signing Ceremony was held at Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka. I had the honor to attend and witnessed that important historic moment, together with Hon. Brian Mushimba, Minister of Transport and Communication, Hon. Dora Siliya, Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Ronald Chitotela, Minister of Works and Supply, Mr. Amos Chanda, Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations, and Mr. Zhuang Shangbiao, President of China Railway Construction Limited Company.
China-Zambia cooperation in railway started with the construction of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway(TAZARA).
When talking about China-Zambia relations, it is avoidable to mention TAZARA.
It was no exception this time. Hon. Brian Mushimba, Mr. Zhuang Shangbiao and I all spoke of TAZARA as if by prior agreement in our separate speeches.
In the 1970s, China, working together with Zambia and Tanzania, built the 1,800-kilometer long TAZARA in 4 years at a time China was itself in great economic difficulties.
The TAZARA, which celebrates its 40th anniversary of its completion this year, has made everlasting contribution to the independence movements in Africa and the socio-economic development in southern Africa, especially in Zambia, and remains even today the symbol of friendship between China, Zambia, Tanzania, and Africa as a whole.
I am pleased that China, Zambia and Tanzania are currently engaging in tripartite consultations on how to revamp the TAZARA and to make it a prosperous road, bringing more benefits to the people along the route in the coming years.
After the TAZARA, China has also built other railways for Africa.
Especially, since the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000, China-Africa railway cooperation has entered into a new period of development, with the completion of several new railways, which include the Lagos – Abuja Railway in Nigeria with a total length of 1315 km, Lobito – Luau Railway in Angola with a total length of 1344 km, and Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopian,to Djibouti Railway with a total length of 750 km.
The Addis Ababa – Djibouti Railway was officially commissioned last month. It is the first transnational electric railway on the continent of Africa, and the first transnational electric railway project fully constructed by Chinese Companies from investment and financing, design and construction to management and operation, and it adopts a complete set of Chinese standards.
This modern road will not only provide transport convenience to the people along the route, but also bring new hope for Ethiopia, Djibouti and even the entire eastern Africa for development and prosperity.
Another railway, which is under construction, is the Mombasa – Nairobi Railway in Kenya with a total length of 480 km.
This railway, Kenya’s first railway to be built in almost 100 years, will further improve the railway network in eastern Africa, increase the transport capacity of the eastern African countries and promote the interconnection and integration of the region.
The construction of these railways reflects the strong aspiration for national development of African countries. To realize this dream of development, it is necessary to improve transportation systems including railways, as China has experienced in the last 30 years.
The biggest advantage of railways is their cost-effectiveness. It is the cheapest and most reliable of all modes of transportation.
In China, for example, we still use railway to transport most of the goods in the country.
In recent years, with the rapid development of railway technology, the high-speed railway system, with trains running at 300 kilometers per hour and connecting all major cities of the country, has increased its advantage and convenience in moving passengers around the country.
With the support of such rich experience and mature technologies, I am confident that the China-Africa cooperation in railway development is bond to enjoy broad prospects.
With the Signing Ceremony of the Zambian East Line railway project, our focus has been brought back to Zambia again.
This railway, with a total length of 388.8 km, will create a large number of employment opportunities in the construction process, and when completed, it will become another important outlet to the sea for Zambia and create a vital economic corridor, driving faster socio-economic development along the route.
Furthermore, after completion it will become an important part of the Southern African integrated transportation system, and have a positive impact in promoting the formation of the African railway network.
When it comes to the African railway network construction, China has a commitment to African countries including Zambia.
Chinese leaders have pledged on different occasions to create three networks for Africa including highway, railway and communication networks.
Last December, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed 10 major China-Africa cooperation plans, including the construction of railway network, and the funding support of 60 billion US dollars at the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit.
It can be expected therefore that the cooperation between China and Africa in railway will reach a peak in the coming years, and the creation of the railway network will greatly enhance the flow of personnel and materials in Africa and bring about faster socio-economic development in Africa.
Now that the Zambian East Line railway project contract has been signed, besides offering my warm congratulations, I hope the preparatory work of the project will be completed and the actual construction can be started soon, so that the new railway will begin to contribute to Zambia’s national development at an early date.
Source: Chinese Embassy in Zambia, November 21