Tanzania is set to build Africa’s longest bridge spanning 50 kilometers to connect the mainland to the Zanzibar Islands, aimed at facilitating the movement of people and commerce.
The deputy minister of Works and Transport, Geofrey Kasekenya, confirmed that negotiations with prospective investors from M/S China Overseas Engineering Group Company (COVEC) have progressed well since they began on March 11, 2023. The bridge will be a partnership between the business sector and both sides in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. This move is in line with President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s emphasis on boosting intra-Africa trade and enhancing trade relations with other East African countries.
The bridge project, first proposed in 2020 by Tanzanians living abroad, was initially met with skepticism. However, the Zanzibar-Dar es Salaam Bridge project is technically feasible, provided adequate funding is available. President Hassan’s approach to governance has boosted foreign direct investments and economic partnerships, making Tanzania the fastest-growing economy in Africa in just two years.
Zanzibar, an archipelago off the coast of Tanzania, has a thriving economy fueled by its main industries of spices, raffia, and tourism. The islands are renowned for producing high-quality spices, including cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper, and together with Tanzania’s Mafia Island, are referred to as the “Spice Islands.”
Tourism in Zanzibar has grown rapidly due to the government’s promotion efforts, with an increase in tourists from 19,000 in 1985 to 376,000 in 2016. The islands can be accessed via five ports and the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport, which has a capacity of up to 1.5 million passengers per year.
Furthermore, the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments are discussing building a railway linking both countries to reduce trade tariffs, while Tanzania and Burundi are seeking proposals to design and construct an electrified railway connecting the two nations and passing through the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The prospective investors in the bridge project, M/S China Overseas Engineering Group Company (COVEC), is a subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), a leading construction company in China.
The construction of the Zanzibar-Dar es Salaam Bridge, the first of its kind in Africa, is set to enhance intra-Africa trade and create economic opportunities. Tanzania’s focus on infrastructure development and partnership with investors demonstrates its commitment to boosting economic growth and prosperity for its citizens.
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