SOUTHERN AFRICA – Railnet International, a U.S. based railway line construction company, plans to invest an estimated US$11 billion in a modern railway line and high-speed trains linking Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Railnet CEO Donald Kress said that his railway development and construction company was in talks with governments in the three countries and signed an agreement to start feasibility studies in Zambia.

“We have a group known as Magcor International and their CEO has arranged financing through a group of investors,” Kress said following the signing of an agreement.

“Until we have signed a contract with the investors, they have requested to remain anonymous.”

The investment in the project, running from Zambia’s Copperbelt province to the port of Beira in Mozambique via Harare in Zimbabwe includes the cost of locomotives and wagons, he said.

Feasibility studies is expected to begin in the next six weeks and would be followed by detailed engineering design for the project on the Zambian side, Kress said.

Construction is expected to begin in January 2021, Kress said, adding that Railnet would replace the existing system to allow freight trains to travel at 120 km/hour and passenger trains at 160 km/hour.

Transport and Communication Permanent Secretary Misheck Lungu, who signed the agreement for Zambia said Railnet would build the new railway line parallel to the existing old one.

Lungu said the project would enable business including mining companies in Africa’s second-largest copper producer to transport bulk cargo by railway instead of using roads.

Railnet will operate the modern railway for a number of years and hand it over to the government after recovering its investment from the profit made, Lungu said.

With the total population of over 63 million people living in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, reducing road congestion is a major benefit of this regional railway service.

The project is expected to promote economic integration, which will create better trading opportunities for locals in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique while increasing the overall productivity.

The proposed railway also presents an opportunity for more investments into the 3 countries as foreign investors will leverage on the smooth transition within Southern Africa and invest in different aspects of their economies.

This is expected to ultimately lead to the creation of more jobs for locals in the region during the course of the construction and at the end when the railway becomes fully operational.