India-financed rail project to enhance connectivity in West Africa

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Accra, Dec 1 (IANS) An India-financed $398 million railway project will push trade in eastern and northern Ghana and also open up landlocked countries in West Africa.

Another $24.54 million project will enable the production of 102,000 tonnes of sugarcane to feed the Kommenda Sugar Factory in the central region, which is also Indian-financed.

An Indian company, Afcons Infrastructure Limited, is to construct an 84.8 kilometre standard gauge railway line from Tema Port near Accra — financed by the Exim Bank of India — to link up with the Volta Lake at Akosombo in the eastern region, its assistant general manager, Amit Shah, told IANS.

There will be four stations along the route, apart from terminals at Tema and Akosombo, complete with operational facilities and loading equipment.

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Shah said the project is to begin in January 2017.

The agreement for the financing of the project was signed in Accra between Eximbank’s Pushpesh Tyagi and Ghanaian Deputy Finister Minister Mona Quartey.

When completed, the rail service is expected to push trade in the country’s eastern corridor and help transport containers and cargo from Tema port to northern Ghana as well as landlocked countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in the West African region.

The other project will help in the cultivation of sugarcane over 1,700 acres of land.

Quartey said the two agreements marked another milestone in the process that would lead to a significant improvement in the transport sector, especially the link from Tema port to the Lake Transport Network, as well as provide enough raw material for the sugar factory at Komenda.

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Quartey said the rail project would link the Tema port to the Volta Lake Transport Network, especially the north-south movement over some 400 kilometres and open up the lake to the transportation of not only fuel and cement but also containerised cargo and agricultural produce from the Savanah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) enclave in the northern belt and Afram Plains in the eastern region to Tema and other destinations.

“The railway link will provide a cheaper, reliable and alternative means for passengers who are not served by the road transport system in the corridor. The construction, operation and maintenance of the railway infrastructure will provide direct and indirect employment to a number of Ghanaians,” Quartey added.

(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>)

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