The African Union‘s Development Agency has announced that the ambitious multibillion-dollar Africa Integrated High Speed rail Network, connecting the continent’s borders by 2063 is on track.

Adama Deen, the head of infrastructure at the AU’s Development Agency issued the statement and said that the project aims at easing movement of goods and people across African borders.

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Africa Integrated High Speed Network

The Africa Integrated High Speed Network is geared at easing the movement of goods, people and services across African borders by building on and improving existing national railways to link Africa’s 54 countries, constructing at least 12,000 kilometers of new tracks.

Cleopatra Shiceka Ntshingila, member of the technical committee, was optimistic that 20% of the pilot phase will be completed in the next four years. Six corridors have been designated for connecting Africa by high-speed rail. Three of them include linking Kenya’s Mombasa port city to Uganda’s capital, Kampala; South Africa’s Durban to Botswana’s Gaborone; and the Ivory Coast’s Abidjan to Burkina Faso’s Ouagadougou.

The CEO for the AU Development Agency in Kenya, Daniel Osiemo, noted that the continent should look to funding from within and stop relying on foreign loans. Mr. Osiemo suggested that African states should pool together pension funds from their respective countries and fund such noble projects.

Corruption challenge

Apart from political instability in other African countries, AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development, former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, worries corruption could be the project’s biggest obstacle.

“I will you give an example of railway, you go to Ethiopia and the rates are different, you go to Nigeria they are different, you come to Kenya, you go to Tanzania — they are different — yet you find that the same companies (are) doing them. That has a lot to do with investment environment in those countries and this is an enemy of Africa, which must be fought. How many of those battles are won will determine just how quickly Africa’s first cross-continental, high-speed train rolls out of the station,” said Raila Odinga.