Chinese state-owned rail giant China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) has signed agreements together worth approximately $2.7bn to build a modern railway between landlocked Mali and the west African coast via neighbouring Senegal.
The 1,286-km line would connect Mali’s capital Bamako to Senegal’s port city of Dakar, and could be built within four years, CRCC announced at the end of December.
Mali’s section of 640km would cost $1.47bn while Senegal’s section, of roughly the same length, would cost $1.25bn, CRCC said, adding that both governments had proposed Chinese finance for the schemes.
The work is reported to involve upgrading old lines and renovating stations.
Mali’s transport minister Mamadou Hachim Koumare said on state-owned radio that the new line would increase passenger rail speed from 20km/h to 100km/hr, according to Reuters. He said freight could travel at 80km/h with the new railway.
Mali is among the world’s 25 poorest countries, according to BBC Monitoring.
It is, however, one of Africa’s major cotton producers, and enjoyed growth and stability from 1992 until 2012, when a military coup unseated the government.
The following year Mali began returning to democratic civilian rule, but a long-running insurgency of the nomadic Tuareg peoples in the north was complicated in 2012 by the capture of territory by Al Qaeda-linked Islamists, drawing military intervention from France.
In November 2015 18 people were killed by gunmen at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako.
Image: The 1,286-km line would connect Mali’s capital Bamako to Senegal’s port city of Dakar (Google Maps)