(Posted 19th January 2023)
Following the lack of financing Uganda’s SGR railway plans, which include a section from Kampala to the Kenyan border, something for which China has been blamed for not being serious about commitments made in the past, has Uganda now sought alternatives, for both financing and construction. Reportedly has a Memoranding of Understanding, in short MoU, been signed already and ongoing negotiations now appear to focus on financing and technical preparations.
Turkish companies have already shown their capacity to deliver on such mega projects after executing several contracts with the Tanzanian government, where the Magufuli government at the time pulled the plug on Chinese contracts and chose to cooperate with Turkiye on developing their SGR network across the country.
Turkiye has been on a major economic – and diplomatic – expansion into Africa and Turkish Airlines arguably flies to the most African destinations as a non African airline. This rollout too has been undertaken in support of political initiatives and partnerships, Turkiye has over the past decade built with African countries.
Data seen speak of over 70 Billion US Dollars investments by Turkish companies in Africa while the trade volume from Turkiye to Africa has in 2020 exceeded 27 Billion US Dollars.
A source preferring anonymity from railway circles had this to say: ‘The Chinese had given us many assurances but given their economic challenges at home it is almost understandable that they no longer have enough liquid cash to finance such mega projects in Africa. They dilly dallied for too long, stretching Uganda’s patience and now a new approach is needed. Turkiye appears willing to talk finance, with seemingly better terms and conditions than the Chinese had offered, and they have construction companies which have a proven track record in East Africa. We have seen what they do in Tanzania and Uganda can benefit from this.‘
Turkish firms have also completed road construction projects in Northern Uganda, at lower cost and good quality compared to Chinese road construction in Uganda and that too no doubt weighs heavily in Turkiye’s favour to bag contracts with Uganda, as long as the financing of the railway construction can be agreed.
Ultimately – according to the planning of the SGR network in Uganda – should the railway continue to Rwanda, Eastern Congo and South Sudan, where for now only road connections or partial railway links exist such as to Gulu in Northern Uganda. The former narrow gauge line to Kasese has been derelict for decades but is also on the list of routes to be restored.
www.ATCNews.org had recently reported about an African Development Bank loan of over 300 Million US Dollars to refurbish the existing narrow gauge line: https://atcnews.org/african-development-bank-group-commits-301-million-to-renovate-ugandas-meter-gauge-railway/
Other links to related articles can be found via: https://atcnews.org/?s=Uganda+railway