Railway Development: Benin, Niger Seek Chinese Funding For Rail Link

The line is meant to complete the West African rail network.

Beninois President Patrice Talon was in Niger over the weekend for an official visit during which he discussed at length the improvement of land transport between the two countries with his host, Mahamadou Issoufou, Radio France International reported. The two leaders talked about the proposed rail link between Benin and Niger as part of the West African network that also connects Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, highlighting its funding.

The proposed project is said to interest a number of West African countries. “We discussed the subject and how we could speed it up, given its importance to our two economies,” President Mahamadou Issoufou told journalists.

“For some time now, we have considered the possibility of turning to China for funding. China is always a ready economic partner of our two countries. It set aside 60 billion US dollars (32,036 billion FCFA) in 2015 to assist Africa’s development,”

President Patrice Talon recalled, though he acknowledged that the profitability of the line might not be guaranteed. “We need concessionary funding, which we hope China will provide, as well as the support of political stakeholders,” he noted.

Observers say as a landlocked country, Niger’s trade with Benin, which has access to the sea, could be enhanced by a rail link between the two nations. Moreover, a completed West African rail network linking Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire – all members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, UEMAO - will not only help in stepping up sub-regional trade, but also boost regional integration. In terms of continental experience, China has funded and executed a number of rail projects, including Nigeria, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Zambia.

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