Rwanda and Tanzania opt for electric high-speed railway to link region

Passengers wait to board an electric train at the St George underground station in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa

Rwanda and Tanzania have decided to use electric trains for their 1,320km standard gauge railway (SGR) line which will link to the East African regional line which passes through Kenya and Uganda.

Transport ministers of the two countries met in Kigali over the weekend to review designs and feasibility studies of the electric rail lines which will surpass those of Kenya and Uganda where diesel-powered trains are used, reports The EastAfrican.

Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of transport Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye said they want to have reduced travel time on the Isaka-Kigali railway line for both cargo and passengers between Dar es Salaam and Kigali.

Launched in January, the Isaka-Kigali railway line will give the two countries a competitive advantage over Kenya where their SGR was launched last year and is currently operating between Nairobi and Mombasa on diesel.

Kenya and Uganda’s SGR were built by the Chinese government, however, Rwanda and Tanzania have agreed to open tenders for the most suitable financing option, reports The EastAfrican.

The previous SGR project without the electric element cost the two countries $2.5 billion. They are expected to pay more for the electric option.

Ethiopia is the only country in the region with an electric rail line built by the Chinese government. The 756 km rail line between Addis Ababa and Djibouti costs $4 billion and travels a maximum of 13 hours for its cargo line.

Rwanda and Tanzania also want a lower time frame of a maximum 13 hours between Dar-es-Salaam and Kigali, and 10 hours for the passenger line.

This article by Ismail Akwei was first published on

Published by Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei is an international journalist, digital media and communications professional, editor, writer, arts, culture and tourism advocate, human rights activist, pan-Africanist, tech enthusiast and history buff. He has worked with multinational media companies across Africa and has over a decade’s experience in journalism.

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