World Bank to support rail rehabilitation

The World Bank has agreed in principal to support the Mozambique government's plan to rehabilitate an important railway line in the central Sofala province.

World Bank operations officer in Maputo, Aniceto Bila, told IRIN on Thursday that the "assistance is part of the Bank's support to the government [to stimulate] commercial and economic activities in that region of the country".

The Sena railway line connects the strategically important port city of Beira with the interior of the country and neighbouring Malawi.

Bila said there was as yet no dollar amount attached to the World Bank support, as the government was also trying to attract private sector investment for the project.

"There's a lot of commercial interest in that region [of Mozambique], along the railway line there is a lot of agricultural potential, there's a coal mine as well. [So] there's a lot of potential for private sector investment," Bila noted.

It was therefore important to support that potential for economic development through the rehabilitation of the line.

Bila said the World Bank would provide soft loans to the government, but stressed that he could not "put a figure on" the assistance yet.

He added that the project was likely to take three years.