Zimbabwe in talks with China over $533m revamp of state railway company |

Zimbabwe in talks with China to renew its state railway company for $533 million


Zimbabwe is in talks with China Railway Group Ltd. to help modernize the state-owned Zimbabwe National Railways.

“We believe we could use their experience and financial strength to improve the NRZ,” Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said in an interview over the weekend. “An improvement is needed in fixed stock, as well as rolling stock and signaling.” The southern African nation has lagged behind its neighbors, including Mozambique and Zambia, in rail upgrading, and wants to catch up, he said.

The NRZ and China Railway signed a memorandum of understanding to begin studying the project and a feasibility report is scheduled to be submitted by the end of June. “We hope that the agreement between NRZ and China Rail will be announced at the next China-Africa Forum in August-September,” Ncube said.

China Rail already has a large presence in the region. In the 1970s it built the 1,860-kilometer (1,156-mile) railway line connecting Zambia’s copper heartland to the Indian Ocean port of Dar es Salaam in neighboring Tanzania. More recently it built the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway in Ethiopia, according to information on its website.

Zimbabwe Railways estimates it needs about $533 million for the overall renovation, even as freight volumes have declined. NRZ transports about 3 million tonnes a year, down from peak volumes of 5 million, spokesman Andrew Kunambura said.

The railway transports a variety of products for export, including lithium, coal, chromium and granite, with most mineral exports sent to Asia, particularly China.

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