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World Bank Says SGR Not Viable For East Africa. Is This Bank Serious And Honesty?

Occasional Debate May 22, 2017

While countries in the East Africa region are now resolute in replacing their almost one century old outdated railway systems they inherited from the colonial era, with efficient state-of-the-art standard gauge railway (SGR) networks, the World Bank thinks that is not a good idea! As such the bank has so far declined funding to SGR projects in the form of loans, on grounds that SGR is not viable for the region! Instead, the bank has been extending loans for rehabilitation of the technically obsolete old railway systems. In Tanzania for instance, while the government is searching for funding of its visionary 2100 kilometer central corridor SGR project, the World Bank paradoxically made available $200 million that can be used to rehabilitate the existing dilapidated old central line that the SGR project is seeking to replace! This attitude of the World Bank as illustrated by the case of Tanzania raises many questions about the seriousness and even honesty of the bank, as regards progressive development in East Africa and perhaps the whole of the continent. Lets look again at the case of Tanzania. How can a bank of global status advice a country to do that? We mean, to accept a loan of $200 million to rehabilitate a dilapidated old fashioned gauge railway built about 100 years ago. We, as well as the bank, know that with such gauge, it will be difficult to find in the world market compatible modern locomotives and wagons for the rehabilitated railway line. Above all, how can the bank advice Tanzania and the region at large to continue embracing old railway technology in the 21st century, while the rest of the world is forging ahead in unprecedented pace adopting sophisticated electrified railway systems that can accommodate contemporary high speed and extremely powerful electric train locomotives? Why should such wonderful new railway systems not be viable in the East Africa region? Is East Africa not part of the 21st century world? Finally but not least, it is now well known that efficient modern railway networks often result in massive savings in highway maintenance costs. We think the World Bank view about the viability of SGR in East Africa is totally flawed either deliberately for reason only known to the bank, or absurdly due to lack of adequate knowledge about development strategies relevant for Africa. The bank's view should therefore be dismissed outright by East Africans. As such the region should continue aggressively with their determination for replacing their old railway networks with SGR. Tanzania specifically, should proceed fully fledged in pursuing its progressive SGR project, even if that could mean temporary economic difficulties to the people. That is because, the only way the East Africa region can catch up economically with the rest of the world, is through among others, modernization of its physical infrastructure including generation of fully electrified SGR networks! If the World Bank can not see the point advanced here, and continue declining loans to SGR projects in East Africa, then the region should search for funding from elsewhere. There are numerous options available for that, because it may not be a "banks market" as the World Bank seems to believe! This what we think, what about you guys out there? What are your views on the World Bank's stance about funding SGR in East Africa? Lets have a debate on this! _____________________________ © 2015 - 2020 Africauptodate. All Rights Reserved