Africa Investment Forum 2019: MOU brings good news for Africa’s rail networks

Another deal signed on second day of the Africa Investment Forum 2019

By African Development Bank
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Nov 13 2019 (IPS-Partners)

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and Thelo DB on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg. The agreement will give both parties an opportunity to develop, finance and operate railway projects across Africa.

Thelo and Afreximbank have agreed to collaborate to modernise the continent’s railways, thereby promoting trade, investment, and economic and skills development. Both see the urgent need for efficient and effective transportation and logistics on the continent, particularly in the freight railway sector.

African governments have long been discussing the importance of the regional integration of infrastructure projects as one of the ways to both free and speed up the movement of goods in order to stimulate intra-Africa trade.

Afreximbank President Prof. Benedict Oramah said the two companies were committed to supporting trade on the continent. “That includes creating capacity to deliver to the markets. With Thelo DB’s capacity to deliver and operate railway mobility systems and Afreximbank’s ability to finance projects, we have an incredibly strong team,” said Oramah

Thelo DB is looking at projects in Southern, East and West Africa, which the company believes are home to corridors that transcend country borders.

The MOU is part of the realisation that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will face challenges without the logistical capacity to move goods.

“The MOU solves a very important part of the puzzle for us, which is, when we’re doing these big capital projects, how do we finance them? Rather than building our own expertise as Thelo DB, working in an integrated manner with Afreximbank magically gives us a solution to that challenge. So we can now sit down with our clients and say not only do we bring technical capacity of a global standard, we bring you unbelievable capital mobilisation in the MOU we signed this morning,” said Ronald Ntuli, Thelo Group Chairman.

Thelo DB is an incorporated partnership between the African industrial group, and leading European railway conglomerate, Deutsche Bahn Engineering & Consulting. Thelo DB brings unmatched capacity to the continent’s railway sector. Some of its expertise include construction supervision, rolling stock leasing capabilities, rehabilitation of existing infrastructure and transferring skills through training and development programmes.

Afreximbank is a multilateral African trade finance institution, with the mandate to facilitate, promote and develop intra- and extra-African trade.

Last year’s inaugural Africa Investment Forum “Market Days” secured record levels of investment interest in deals worth billions of dollars in just 3 days.

Investors, project sponsors and government representatives discussed 63 projects valued at $46.9 billion involving seven sectors in 24 countries. Investment interest worth $38.7billion was secured for 49 projects.

AIF 2019 hopes to better that figure between November 11 and 13.

Media contact: Gershwin Wanneburg, Communication and External Relations Department, African Development Bank, email: g.wanneburg@afdb.org

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