By Etuka Sunday
African -Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) and South Africa-based Thelo DB Proprietary Limited yesterday in Johannesburg, South Africa, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop, finance and operate railway projects in Africa.
Under the terms of the MoU, signed on the sidelines of the ongoing Africa Investment Forum, Afreximbank and Thelo DB will collaborate to support the modernisation of the continent’s railways as a catalyst to promoting trade, investment and economic skills development, recognising the urgent need for implementation of efficient and effective transportation and logistics solution in Africa, with particular emphasis on the freight railway sector.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, described the event as timely, given that the continent was in the process of operationalising the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. According to the President, it is imperative that critical trade enabling infrastructure be put into place to facilitate the flow of tradeable goods and services along Africa’s trade corridors. He noted that Afreximbank’s strategic plan, IMPACT2021, sought to dramatically improve intra-African trade.
Ronnie Ntuli, Chairman of the Board of Thelo DB,welcomed the opportunity to work with “this leading and prestigious African multilateral development finance institution” and said that the strategic collaboration between the two organisations provided Thelo DB with the prospect to enhance the technical value chain of services that it offered to the African railway sector. “Through this critically important relationship, we are able to offer to the continent, not only the best technical solutions for the railway sector but also introduce financing solutions to finance railway projects across the continent.”
He further stated that Afreximbank and Thelo DB were well-positioned to facilitate trade, support infrastructure development and, importantly, help deliver the ambition of regional integration.
Thelo DB was committed to delivering unparalleled know-how and experience in the African railway sector and to providing railway infrastructure development, operational cooperation and construction supervision by implementing, and rehabilitating existing infrastructure, enhancing operational efficiencies and managing risks associated with rolling stock while transferring skills through training and skills development programmes, explained Mr. Ntuli.
According to him, by bringing separate but complimentary sets of specialities, Afreximbank and Thelo DB anticipate much improved efficiencies in the development, financing and operation of railway infrastructure projects, enhancing regional skills and supporting broader economic development on the African continent.