New transport services facilitate connectivity, lift manufacturing
NAIROBI－China's railway technology is beneficial to boosting integration, trade and industrialization in Africa, said Jean-Jacque Bouya, the Minister of Territorial Management and Major Projects of the Republic of Congo.
The minister, who visited Kenya as part of a benchmarking tour on the success of the China-funded Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway (SGR), said Beijing has emerged as a significant partner in Africa's quest to modernize transport infrastructure.
"We can strengthen China-Africa cooperation and discuss implementation of infrastructure projects that can boost connectivity in line with the Belt and Road Initiative," Bouya told the Xinhua News Agency in a recent interview.
On Sunday, Bouya rode on the SGR passenger train and later took an inspection tour of the new berth at the port of Mombasa developed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).
Bouya noted that the SGR passenger and cargo services have improved connectivity, boosted cross-border trade, revived the manufacturing sector and created jobs.
"The SGR is a good project that will act like a belt to connect this region and the continent. It has also given jobs to young people and realigns with our leaders' vision to enhance connectivity and integration," the minister said.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the SGR passenger train dubbed Madaraka Express on May 31, 2017.
According to SGR's contractor and operator, the CRBC, about one million passengers have since traveled on the Madaraka Express between Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa.
Bouya said the successful launch of the 430 km SGR in Kenya has inspired other African countries to follow suit.
"What is important is for African countries to have similar projects like the SGR because it will boost our economies," Bouya said, adding that infrastructure development is the embodiment of win-win cooperation between China and African countries.
He praised the launch of the SGR cargo service for reducing the cost of transporting goods from Mombasa to Kenya's hinterland, hence stimulating commerce in the country.
"The cargo train has brought economic benefits. It has reduced the cost of transporting a container by half. It is good for the economic development of Kenya and Africa," Bouya said.
He said that the Republic of Congo, a mineral-rich country in central Africa, is ready to engage with China as it embarks on modernizing key infrastructure such as railways and ports.
"In Congo-Brazzaville, we have a maritime port and an old railway. If we build a new railway network, we will reduce the cost of transport and boost industrialization," Bouya said.
"We plan to develop this project soon and discuss the best approach with the CRBC," he added.
Bouya said the Republic of Congo, which has a population of 5 million people, intends to harness a commodities boom to modernize key economic sectors such as manufacturing.