Samia and Ndayishimiye sign other agreements and plan for a grand entry into Congo

By LUKE ANAMI

By APOLINARI TAIRO

Tanzania and Burundi have signed multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects in preparation for the huge market in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The deals come as DR Congo is closing in on membership in the East African Community, after the EAC technical committee approved its offer. The Council of Ministers is expected to deliver its verdict in November, in time for the Heads of State Summit.

Kinshasa’s entry into the bloc is accompanied by a treasure trove of minerals, wood products and agricultural products, which all EAC partners are eyeing. Congo, with a population of around 90 million, constitutes a huge consumer market for which the economies of the EAC are scrambling.

As some goods passed through the port of Mombasa via the Northern Corridor, Tanzanian leader Samia Suluhu Hassan accelerated Dodoma’s advocacy for states in the Great Lakes region to use the Central Corridor for their imports and exports.

President Samia welcomed Evariste Ndayishimiye from Burundi on Friday, where construction of standard gauge roads and rail lines to link Tanzania and Burundi to DR Congo dominated discussions.

Landlocked Burundi depends heavily on the port of Dar es Salaam and the central corridor for the transport of its imports and exports and the new projects are intended to improve the efficiency and the rope of the new kid on the block, Kinshasa.

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During a press briefing in Dodoma after welcoming President Ndayishimiye, President Samia announced that their talks revolved around linking the two countries by building the 240 km Uvinza-Msongati-Gitega railway line. At least 160 km of the line will be on the Tanzania side.

“The DRC has also expressed its intention to join the project by building a railway line that will extend from Uvinza-Uvira-Burundi to Kindu in the DRC,” said President Samia.

This line, once completed, will be useful for transporting minerals from the DRC and Burundi to the port of Dar es Salaam.

This will tip the balance sharply in Tanzania’s favor, against other economies, and in particular Kenya, which recently revitalized its ports of Mombasa, Lamu and Kisumu to take advantage of the expected trade boom.

“In January of this year, the three countries (Tanzania, Burundi and DRC) signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation on this project,” President Samia said, “to allow the transport of goods, especially minerals. – including nickel from the famous Msongati in Burundi – to the port of Dar es Salaam so that it can be shipped to the international market.

“Tanzania has already issued a license to the Nickel Company to build an ore processing plant and also provide a market for Burundi to sell its nickel,” she added.

Work on railway tracks

She said construction of the SGR lines connecting Dar es Salaam, Tabora and Mwanza, and Tabora-Uviza-Dodoma is underway. Dodoma and Bujumbura are now seeking funding for the SGR project. The two presidents, earlier in July, during Samia’s state visit to Burundi, asked their finance ministers to explore ways to raise funds for the Uvinza-Msongati line.

“Experts from both countries have completed the assessment process to allow the two countries to apply for a loan to finance construction,” said the Tanzanian leader.

President Ndayishimiye said his government was renovating the port of Bujumbura “which will allow the transport of people and goods from Bujumbura to Kigoma, via Zambia and the DRC”.

“This will reduce the cost of transportation in the Great Lakes region,” he noted.

“We have not been able to fully exploit our minerals, so we are looking for partnerships and expertise from Tanzania on how to develop this sector. The memorandum of understanding on cooperation in this sector has already been signed, ”Ndayishimiye said. “Burundi will soon be importing coal from Tanzania to develop its steel industry. “

President Ndayishimiye, who is on a three-day visit, received a heroic welcome in Dodoma. Upon arriving at Chamwino State House mid-morning, he received a 21-gun salute and inspected an honor guard mounted by the Tanzanian army.

After the talks, which also covered trade and security, he laid the foundation stone in Nala in the Dodoma industrial zone, where the Burundian company Itracom is building a $ 180 million fertilizer plant.

The plant, when completed in August 2022, is expected to produce 600,000 tonnes per year to meet Tanzania’s annual demand of between 400,000 and 500,000 tonnes and boost agricultural production.

Other key areas of cooperation discussed were the national ICT trunk of the Tanzania backbone connecting Burundi and the rest of the EAC, health services – mainly on specialized facilities to fight Covid-19 and vaccination.

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