Minister of Works and Transport, John Mutorwa, has revealed that the government is now actively exploring funding options for this ambitious project.
The envisioned railway will establish crucial connections between Zambia and Botswana, extending through Ngoma to Kasane, and ultimately linking Zimbabwe and Zambia, reaching as far as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The extensive feasibility study, conducted by the Canadian-based firm MR Technofin Consultants Ltd and co-funded by Namibia and the African Development Bank, has deemed the proposed 772km railway expansion technically, environmentally, legally, financially, and economically feasible.
Mutorwa said that after thoroughly reviewing the report by MR Technofin, the Namibian government has granted its approval for the final feasibility study.
This comprehensive study also assessed various aspects of regional railway infrastructure development involving Zambia, Angola, and Botswana, while facilitating consultations between Namibia and neighbouring countries’ authorities and institutions.
The evaluation encompassed factors such as commodity demand, annual freight volumes, transportation costs, competitive routes, and alternative options for establishing regional railway connections from Namibia, with a focus on identifying the most favourable route.
Mutorwa noted that the Zambian government has proposed a joint meeting of finance ministers from Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia to explore potential funding avenues for this significant project.
The Trans-Caprivi Corridor, spanning from the Walvis Bay port to Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo via Zambia, holds immense strategic importance for all three countries.
Tsodilo Resources Limited, a Canadian diamond and metals explorer poised to benefit from the railway extension, envisions connecting new mines and mining operations to the railway network along the Walvis Bay – Ndola – Lubumbashi Development Corridor. This development will facilitate the transportation of minerals from Zambia’s Copperbelt to Walvis Bay. Tsodilo sees this corridor as strategically positioned to serve two-way trade between the Southern African Development Community region and global markets in Europe, North and South America, and emerging markets in the East.
James Bruchs, Chairman and CEO of Tsodilo, expressed the project’s approval as a significant milestone, highlighting its importance for Tsodilo’s Xaudum Iron Formation project and its proximity to Divundu in Namibia.
Tsodilo Resources is actively exploring economic diamond, metal deposits, and industrial stone at its Bosoto, Gcwihaba, and Newdico projects in Botswana.
Namibia’s current rail system is linked to Transnet rail in South Africa, extending from the southern border with South Africa to the northern border with Angola, as well as from the country’s midsection to its coastal and harbour towns.
According to TransNamib, Namibia’s rail infrastructure spans a total length of 2,687 kilometres across the country and is government-owned, with TransNamib as the sole operator. In terms of cross-border connectivity, Namibia is currently only linked to South Africa via rail. However, Namibia has developed its rail line to Oshikango, which could potentially connect to the Angolan market if Angola invests in extending its rail infrastructure up to the Namibian border.
TransNamib also noted that only approximately 48% of Namibia’s rail network meets the minimum Southern African Development Community (SADC) required standard of 18.5 tonnes/axle load, with the remaining sections accommodating loads of 16.5 tonnes or less per axle.