Strategic presence in rail development in Africa

The Dakar International Forum on the Rail Project Financing in Africa, held in October 2023, marked a milestone in efforts to boost rail development on the African continent. The Forum, organised by Chemins de Fer du Senegal (CFS) and the International Union of Railways (UIC), brought together more than 500 participants, including representatives of the African Union, the United Nations, subregional organisations, ministers of transport, railways, and technology, as well as investors and regulators of the railway sector. 

The forum highlighted the following key points: 

  • The importance of railway development for the movement of people and goods, essential to boost the productivity and competitiveness of African economies and contribute to the fight against climate change. 
  • The significant efforts of African states and their respective railway sectors in the development of infrastructure, with recent internationally recognised successes such as the high-speed train to Boraq between Casablanca and Tangier, in Morocco. 
  • Collaboration between African states and the African Union to deploy an “African Railway Network”, one of the 15 flagship projects of the African Union Agenda 2063, which aims to build a rail network connecting all regions of the continent by 2043, transforming current national rail systems into an interconnected and interoperable network. 
  • The need to create centres of excellence for training in the railway sector. 
  • Mobilising resources to finance public transport projects as key to success. 

During the Forum, critical challenges were identified, such as access to international finance, which perceives investments in Africa as high-risk, and the lack of financial return on investment in the construction of railway infrastructure, which does not attract private investors if it is not financed with public subsidies. 

The event served as a platform to present and promote the Dakar Declaration, which highlights the imperative need for investment in rail infrastructure in Africa, not only as a means of fostering economic development and trade, but also as a key strategy in the fight against climate change and in the promotion of sustainable development. Collaboration between governments, international agencies, investors, and the private sector is emerging as critical to overcoming financing challenges and achieving the region’s ambitious sustainable development goals. 

The event was attended by TYPSA’s Regional Director of Africa, Joaquin Barba, together with Head of Infrastructure Advisory Services, José Cordovilla. The latter participated in the round table entitled “How to mobilise financing for railway infrastructure” where he presented his vision on the importance of strategic planning and detailed and rigorous technical studies to support investment decisions and attract funding. 

The presence of both at the forum reflects TYPSA’s commitment to sustainable development and infrastructure provision in Africa, and its determination to remain a strategic partner in the development of rail projects on the continent. 

José Cordovilla
Head of Infrastructure Advisory Services

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