Mozambique may have a role to play in the second wave of railroad construction in Africa, according to an article published in the China-Lusophone Brief (CLBrief), an information service on China and Portuguese-speaking countries.
In the article entitled “Big investment, but uncertain strategy for Moatize coal,” the author points out that most of the railways on the African continent were built during the colonial period with a very clear objective – transporting raw materials as quickly as possible to the coast and to factories in other parts of the world.
The trade between these commodity-producing countries and even domestically was something that was given little attention, the article notes.
This continuing reality is, however, being overcome by a second wave of railway construction, which pays more attention to the real needs of African countries, in the case of those being built to connect the ports of Mombasa and Dar-es-Salaam, in the Indian Ocean, to landlocked countries in the Great Lakes region.
Mozambique could be one of the major players in this second railway revolution as, while its railways serve primarily to carry coal, they could also serve to support the growth of cross-border trade.
Railway lines carrying coal from South Africa and Botswana for export may be used to transport other products and the lines that exist in the north-central region of the country may also be used to transport the products that the landlocked countries in the region, such as Malawi and Zimbabwe, need to export.
The Nacala line, on which Brazilian group Vale has spent billions of dollars, is already connected to the railways of Malawi as it heads from Moatize in the province of Tete to the port of Nacala in the province of Nampula .
In addition to the Sena line linking Moatize to the port of Beira, in Sofala province, there is another line that was built in the colonial period linking the port to Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which although it is in operation as far as Zimbabwe needs a massive investment in order to serve its original purpose.