THE European Union has agreed to provide €123m to support the upgrade of Cameroon’s 330km Belabo - Ngaoundere line.

The funding will be provided through a €106m European Investment Bank loan and a €17.1m European Union grant. The loan, grant and technical assistance will finance and support the €243m project to enable faster and more reliable freight and passenger services between central and northern Cameroon, enhance connections between the port of Douala, Chad and the Central African Republic, and provide a sustainable alternative to road transport.

The line has not been modernised since it opened in 1974, and is expected to carry more than one million passengers a year after modernisation is complete in 2028. The project includes upgrading track and other enhancements to enable passenger services to operate at up to 90km/h and freight services at up to 70km/h, as well as improving station facilities and level crossings.

The new loan for the line represents the EIB’s largest ever package for transport investment in sub-Saharan Africa and the largest single investment in Cameroon.

The EU is providing technical support for project implementation and to share international best practice. This includes a €2m technical assistance grant, financed and managed by the EIB, which has supported project preparation over the last year. A second €3m grant, managed by the EIB and backed by the EU, will support project implementation.

The Belabo - Ngaoundere upgrade is also expected to be backed by financing from the Republic of Cameroon and French development agency AFD.