Senior management charges from the railways of Angola, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa have shown an interest in the know-how of the spanish railway industry.
The Spanish Railway Association, Mafex, organized with the support of ICEX Spain Exports and Investment, the conference “Business Opportunities in the railway sector in Sub-Saharan Africa”, which was held in Madrid during September 15th – 19th 2014. An activity aimed to promote the expansion of the Spanish industry in the continent, with special attention to six emerging markets.
The sessions were attended by senior managers and representatives of Angolan railways, Instituto Nacional dos Caminhos de Ferro; Namibia, TransNamib Holdings Ltd; Zambia, Zambia Railways Limited; Zimbabwe, National Railways of Zimbabwe; Mozambique, Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique, and PRASA, the passenger operator of South Africa. All of them explained, in a series of papers, the importance the railway has regarding the development of their countries, as well as the need to have the know-how and high technology, and other specialized solutions offered by the Spanish industry.
Business opportunities for the Spanish railway industry
Mr. Manuel João Lourenço, General Director of the Instituto de los Caminos de Ferro de Angola (INCFA), focused his conference on rail projects planned until 2017 in Angola, where he highlighted, among others, the light rail line in Luanda, as well as other major projects that are currently under study. According to Lourenço, MAFEX’s invitation to this conference meant “opening business opportunities for the Spanish industry in Angola”.
Mr. Hippy Tjivikua, Executive of the Strategy and Management Area in Transnamib Holdings Ltd of Namibia, explained that the railway network in the country currently has 2,668 km and that its greatest difficulty nowadays is the lack of rail links with adjacent countries (Botswana, Zambia and Zinbabwe). In this sense, his interest is currently focused on being able to have a network with which the country has the possibility to communicate with them and have an easier and faster transport between them.
Meanwhile, Professor Muyenga Atanga, CEO of Zambia Railway Limited (ZRL), declared that the US economy will grow at around 8% annually during the next five years. An improvement that needs a strong boost in transport connections in order to increase the number of exports in external markets, especially copper. In addition, the government plans to launch a large number of works such as Chingola’s connection to Jimbe, on the border with Angola, the branch Kafue (Zambia) -Zawi (Zimbabwe), the line TAZARA Nseluka with the port Mpulungu, the expansion of the railway line Mchinji/Chipata so that it connects to the port of Nacala (Mozambique) and the link with Namibia.
Mr. Lewis Mukwada, General Director of National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), took advantage of his presence at this conference to talk about the program regarding the rehabilitation of the tracks, rolling stock and signalling and telecommunications systems in the national network. He emphasized on the routes Lion’s Den-Kafue, Shamva-Moatize, the commuter line Harare-Machipanda and Harare-Beira.
Moreover, Mr. Sancho Quipiço Junior, Member of the Board, and Mr. Alves Cumbe, Director of Communications at Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM), focused their conference on the need that their country has today on investing with the objective of improving the rail system, especially freight, given its geographical location.
Finally, the President of PRASA Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Mr. Popo Molefe, and its CEO, Mr. Mosenngwa Mofi, explained how South Africa is currently in full development of the railway infrastructure following the adoption of the “Plan 2012 -2030 Investment in Railway Sector”, which includes, among other things, the acquisition of rolling stock valued in over 40,000 million euros, and the expansion of rail and port infrastructure to improve trade between South Africa and the international markets.
Ultimately, the aim of the conference was to analyse the different options for business collaboration facing the new transportation plans that are programmed in the area. Also, the event served to show the attendees the high training of the Spanish industry and meet the particular needs of each project, including the creation and improvement of existing rail corridors to enable freight traffic to major ports in the region and the implementation of systems for mass passenger transport. Both of them were described as a priority.
The agenda of the delegation was completed with more than 67 B2B meetings between African experts and 25 Spanish companies participating in the event; and 15 technical visits to some of the most representative companies in the sector in different Spanish regions such as Valencia, Madrid and the Basque Country.
Study Mission to South Africa, Mozambique and Ethiopia
In order to reinforce the efforts that the Spanish Railway Association and the industry itself is carrying out on the African continent, the Director of Mafex, Pedro Fortea, travelled to the three countries during October 20th – 24th 2014. During the visit, Mr. Fortea had the opportunity to meet with PRASA and the Department of Trade and Industry in Johannesburg; Railways of Mozambique, CFM, in Maputo; and Ethiopian railways, ERC, in Addis Ababa, all with the support of the Economic and Commercial Office of Spain in Johannesburg and Cairo, as well as with the collaboration of the Embassy of Spain in Maputo.
Improving transport infrastructure is one of the most urgent challenges for Mozambique. In this country, reaching almost 3,000 kilometres, a north-south connection is necessary. It is an area of great potential, given its geographical location as a natural transit corridor and a point of access to the sea from various countries which are landlocked. This is why the restructuring of its rail system is so important, after 16 years of internal conflict. Among the projects for freight rail systems, we must include Nacala and Beira. Nacala is a key corridor for neighbouring landlocked countries such as Malawi and Zambia, with the support of the African Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA, for its acronym in English). On the other hand, the “Beira Railway Project” aims to rehabilitate the system in central Mozambique.
Also, significant investments are planned for the expansion of the port of Maputo in order to increase their ability to transport goods between 40 and 50 million tons by 2020 and the migration of additional cargo from road to rail. In parallel, CFM plans to invest USD 2,000 million in infrastructure to increase freight arriving at the port of Maputo by rail. According to the President of CFM, most of this investment will be destined to the purchase of locomotives and 600 million SD to the rehabilitation and upgrading of the infrastructure. For the railway managers in Mozambique, the rail connection to South Africa is key.