Tanzania has signed a $1.3-billion deal with two Chinese companies for building a section of a railway aimed at linking its main port to neighbouring countries.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and President John Magufuli oversaw the signing of the contract on Friday at an event broadcast live on state television.
The deal involves the completion of the fifth section in a 2,561-kilometre railway whose construction began in 2017.
The overall plan is to link the Indian Ocean port of Dar es Salaam to Mwanza on Lake Victoria, with eventual spurs to Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
The Chinese firms will build a 341-kilometre section between the port city of Mwanza on Lake Victoria and Isaka in the northwest, according to Tanzanian Transport Minister Leonard Chamuriho.
China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation and China Railway Construction Limited will oversee the project.
Currently, Chinese companies have built several major infrastructure projects in Tanzania worth about $10 billion.
“I ask Chinese companies to make sure they implement projects with required standards. They should actually put the interest of Tanzania first,” said Wang.
On his part, Magufuli said he had asked China to support the financing of the construction of a controversial hydropower plant in the Selous Game Reserve.
“I have also asked China to consider waiving some debts and I believe they will work on that through their concessions,” he said.
China is the biggest investor in Africa, pumping huge loans about $148 billion in railroads, ports and airports in exchange for securing oil and commodity supplies such as copper and cobalt.