Africa is the world’s second-largest and second most-populous continent, and with over a billion people in 54 countries. It’s topography and climate range from deserts in the north to mountainous jungles in the central parts, and even more changes the further south one travels. It is this vastness and variety that makes travelling, whether by road, rail and even by air, in Africa such a challenge. The challenges experienced in creating a viable transport network that not only connects Africa with the world, but also within the continent itself are many. Creating an efficient transport infrastructure system for cross border transport, including air, road, rail and shipping, that will make it easier to create viable trade on the continent is therefore of vital importance as it is closely connected to the economic, technological and social renaissance of Africa.
Today ports have become even more important than they were previously as they play a role of utmost significance to an economy in transition. Ports are one of the primary components of the general transportation sector and are nowadays linked to the expanding world economy. One might say that ports are a means of integration into the global economic system. There are various characteristics of ports that make them important. First of all they perform roles as important links of hinterlands to points overseas. In fact, it is generally accepted that countries without ports are lacking a vital necessity. On the other hand, countries also require inner linkages, such as links to other ports, airport and railway connections if they are to perform their role efficiently. Ports, after all, are part of the mass transportation system. Secondly, sea conveyance is the cheapest way of transportation when considered in terms of fuel consumption and investment.
Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (abbreviated CFM; in English Mozambique Ports and Railways) is the parastatal authority that oversees the railway system of Mozambique and its connected ports. Mozambique’s rail system is composed of a total of 2,983 km rail of the 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge that is compatible with neighbouring rail systems. The system developed over more than a century from three different ports at the Indian Ocean that serve as terminals for separate lines to the hinterland. The railroads were major targets during the Mozambican Civil War, were sabotaged by RENAMO, and are currently being rehabilitated. In August 2010, Mozambique and Botswana signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a 1,100 km heavy-haul railway through Zimbabwe, to carry coal from Serule in Botswana to a deepwater port at Techobanine Point in Mozambique.
A feasibility study into the project entailing the proposed Ponto Techobanine deep- sea port and heavy-haul railway line linking the port to Botswana’s burgeoning coal-producing eastern region has been completed. The railway line is expected to start at a new dry port to be established near Selebi Phikwe, in eastern Botswana, and pass through Zimbabwe. Currently, the project is ready to enter the detailed design stage, once the funding arrangements have been concluded. It is anticipated that it would take seven years to complete the entire project, which includes the construction of coal-handling facilities in Selibe Phikwe. The new line will also connect Botswana’s coalfields to Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo through Kazungula. This alternative trade route is also expected to improve the competitiveness of Botswana and Zimbabwe as well as improve access for export commodities to the global economy. The Ponto Techobanine railway line will improve Botswana’s coal access to Asian countries, which are the major potential market for Botswana. The country is optimistic that it can produce up to 90-million tons of seaborne thermal coal a year, mainly for export to countries like India and China.
The minimum project components of Phase 1 of the Techobanine Deep-water Port are the following:
The contracts signed with the participating countries provide for the incorporation of country specific special purpose vehicle companies, namely: