The money will be used to establish a technical unit to coordinate the upgrading of existing railways and the construction of new lines.

The unit will spearhead planned projects including the upgrading of Tanzania's 970km Dar es Salaam - Isaka line and construction of two new lines: a 494km extension from Isaka to Kigali in Rwanda, of which 355km will be in Tanzania and 139km in Rwanda, and a 197km line from Keza to Musongati, which will include 139km in Burundi and 58km in Tanzania. These will be the first railways to be built in Rwanda and Burundi.

A feasibility study will also be carried out into the proposed establishment of the East Africa Railway Authority to coordinate rail transport in the five countries. The AfDB funding will also enable the EAC to harmonise the regulatory and legal framework for railway operations in the five member countries and carry out prefeasibility and feasibility studies of rail links within the region.

EAC secretary general Mr Richard Sezibera says railways in the region currently provide less than 10% of the required transport capacity for heavy and bulk freight despite attempts at concessioning the network, which is causing heavy stress on the EAC road network and increasing maintenance costs.