Tanzania is ready for regional integration and is in the process of completing road and railway networks with the goal of linking neighbouring countries, hence contributing to continental integration efforts, President Samia Suluhu Hassan has said.
However, the country will need more external funding to finance the construction of the next phases of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) as well as proposed highways to Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, she said on Wednesday in Ghana after receiving an award for her country’s recent infrastructure projects.
“It is my belief that with connecting the RECs (regional economic community blocs), eventually our entire continent will be connected,” she said.
“We think that the connectivity shall play a major role within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).
“If we must progress, Africa must produce, process and trade within its boundaries. The connectivity must begin within our national boundaries then extend within our regional economic blocs then eventually to the entire continent.”
The AfCTA is the continental treaty meant to improve intra-African trade by eliminating barriers. It will require better trade to facilitate movement of goods.
The Tanzanian leader received this year’s Super Prize Great Builder- Babacar Ndiaye Trophy, an award organised by infrastructure information platform Acturoutes, with the Media for Infrastructure and Finance in Africa (MIFA), a network of African journalists specialising in road infrastructure, and sponsored by the African Development Bank.
Named after a former president of the African Development Bank between 1985 to 1995, previous winners include Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Senegal’s Macky Sall, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi of Egypt and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.
Samia is the first female winner of the award, even though most of the projects were started by previous Tanzanian administrations.
In her acceptance speech, Samia recognised her predecessor John Pombe Magufuli, who died in March last year, as the most deserving compatriot to have won the accolade.
The selection committee of the prize said Samia had shown “a clear vision” and has prioritised infrastructure development.
“As a result, she is committing significant resources to new roads, railways, ports and airports to further improve living conditions of the people.
“The president is also spearheading regional integration projects through regional connectivity projects such as railways, which will maximise regional trade,” Mike Salawou, Director for Infrastructure and Urban Development Department, AfDB, said in a note.
“We have awarded it to you to encourage you to continue building roads for the whole of Tanzania, and also to connect with other African countries,” he said.