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wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
on December 7, 2011 in Senegal

The 1,233km metre-gauge railway from Dakar in Sénégal to Bamako in adjoining Mali was completed in 1924, though portions of the line were in operation 20 years previously. An extension to Koilikoro, a further 53km, was completed later but is out of use. There was little further investment in the line itself until some three years after operations were privatised in 2003, by which time the track was in poor condition.

In 2006, partial improvement took place, funded by an International Development Agency loan of $US48.7 million for “transport corridor improvements”.

Today however things are not looking good. Although additional rolling stock has been acquired, Transrail – which holds a 25-year operating concession – reported 136 derailments in the first 10 months of 2011, also 291 instances of broken rail between Dakar and Thies (70km), part of which carries a commuter service. Repair work is in progress along some 44km of this section at present, scheduled for completion in 2014.

In 2010, Thomas Cook’s International Timetable listed a once-weekly “express” passenger train linking the two capitals, remarking that “the trains are life-expired, filth has accumulated for years, bedroom doors often don’t lock and lack hinges, lights don’t work and toilets have no water. The available mattresses and linen haven’t been washed for years. Never mind what the timetable says, the train will take anything from 44 to over 80 hours to make the trip”. Transrail says 400,000 tons of freight were conveyed in 2010. Loads are constrained by a 15 ton axle load.

Currently the two countries, keen to upgrade the railway to carry minerals like iron ore and phosphates, are seeking funding for upgrading from sources such as the European Union, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the French Development Agency. A figure of about $US1.6 billion has been mentioned for strengthening the track.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

PARIS (Reuters) - Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara appealed to international donors on Tuesday for $4 billion to help fund post-war development, saying it would help stem the spread of instability and crime in West Africa.

       With the international community anxious to contain an al Qaeda enclave in neighbouring Mali, Ouattara urged a conference of wealthy nations and multilateral organisations in Paris to treat Ivory Coast as an anchor of stability in West Africa.

              Ouattara and many in the international community have voiced hope his arrival in power last year has drawn a line under a decade of instability and conflict in the regional powerhouse.

              He took office with French military backing in May 2011 following a brief but brutal civil war after ex-President Laurent Gbagbo rejected his election win.

              "Ivory Coast is rediscovering its place at the heart of the region," Ouattara said, inaugurating the donor conference which concludes on Wednesday. "Investing in Ivory Coast is investing in the region and reducing poverty beyond our borders."

              Economic growth in the world's largest cocoa exporter is forecast at 8.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year as it bounces back from a decade of economic decline.

              Ouattara said a $20 billion 2013-2015 national development plan would push economic growth into double-digits by 2014 but the government needed help to plug a $4 billion funding gap.

              While he acknowledged many wealthy Western nations were facing budgetary constraints, Ouattara said supporting Ivory Coast would help to prevent the spread of Islamic militancy and international crime in turbulent West Africa.

              Rebels dominated by Islamists linked to al Qaeda seized the desert north of Mali this year, sparking fears of attacks by militants in the region or in Europe. African nations are seeking a U.N. mandate for military intervention.

              "We must be united to fight terrorism, the traffic of arms and drugs, women and children, with all our force," he said. "The best way of facing these dangers is supporting Ivory Coast in its efforts toward development."

              The development plan was decisively boosted by the IMF, World Bank and Paris Club's decision this year to cancel $10 billion of Ivory Coast's $12.5 billion external debt, freeing up some 40 percent of the budget earmarked for debt service.

              The government is seeking some 5.3 trillion CFA francs of private sector investment for the plan in agriculture, transport infrastructure and energy production.

              The state has earmarked some 2.1 trillion CFA of its own resources but that leaves a funding gap for donors of some 2.0 trillion CFA francs, Ouattara said.

            Patrick Achi, minister of economic infrastructure, said the government was focused on boosting regional transport links to increase trade in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He cited a planned $160 million railway from Ouangolo in northern Ivory Coast to Sikasso in southern Mali.

              "We are saying to investors, Ivory Coast is not just a market of 23 million people: it gives you access to a regional market of 300 million people," he said.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
BAMAKO (Reuters) - China has extended 26 billion CFA francs ($51 million) in funding to Mali, the West African country said on Friday, as it negotiates a programme with the International Monetary Fund.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita reached the agreement, which includes a gift of 18 billion francs and a 6 billion franc interest-free loan, during a visit to China for the World Economic Forum in Tianjin, a presidency statement said.
Mali also signed several partnership agreements with China, including for the construction of a fourth bridge across the Niger river in the capital Bamako and a railway line between Bamako and Conakry, the capital of neighbouring Guinea, the statement said.
The IMF restarted talks on Thursday in Bamako to review a programme for Mali and resume aid payments to the West African country halted this year.
The IMF and World Bank froze nearly $70 million in financing after the Fund expressed concern in May over Mali's purchase of a $40 million presidential jet and a loan for military supplies, which undermined donor confidence in Keita's government.
A senior finance ministry official said an agreement was expected within two weeks, after the government agreed to cut expenditure to ensure the aircraft purchase would not increase debt.
An IMF spokesman in Washington said on Thursday authorities had agreed to a review of the transactions by an independent auditor and a tightening of the procurement code.
Mali secured over $4 billion in donor pledges last year to rebuild after twin crises in 2012. In the first, Malian soldiers ousted the president and, in the second, a mix of separatist and al Qaeda-linked rebels seized the country's desert north.
French troops scattered the Islamist fighters and a U.N. peacekeeping mission has since deployed. But slow progress has left Keita struggling to retain the popular support that swept him to power last year.
The row over the jet and the defence deals led to criticism that the era of murky deals that shrouded the administration of ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure had not come to an end.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali has signed a string of agreements with China totalling about $11 billion, most of it intended to finance two major railway projects linking the land-locked country to the coast, Mali's presidency said.

Mali gave few details on the terms of the 34 agreements but said they included some loans. They coincide with fresh talks with the International Monetary Fund to review a programme for Mali and resume aid payments halted this year.
The IMF and World Bank froze nearly $70 million in financing after the Fund expressed concern in May about Mali's purchase of a $40 million presidential jet and a loan for military supplies, deals that undermined donor confidence in the commitment of Mali's new government to rebuild the country after a coup and an uprising in 2012.
The agreements were signed during a four-day visit by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to China from Sept. 9 to 13 for the World Economic Forum in Tianjin, according to a statement published on the website of Mali's presidency.
China's Foreign Ministry declined to confirm the value of the projects.
"China is willing to increase trade and economic cooperation with African countries to promote joint development," ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing in Beijing when asked if he could give any details about the Mali projects.
He did not elaborate except to say China had already released news about Keita's visit.
The ministry said in a short statement on its website last week that Premier Li Keqiang told Keita that China was willing to increase cooperation on mining, agriculture and infrastructure. It made no mention of any deals signed.
China typically gives very few details about agreements signed with other countries, especially in Africa.
Mali's presidency said in the website statement the biggest of the planned projects was an $8 billion, 900-km (560-mile) railway linking the capital of Bamako to Guinea's port capital Conakry.
Another 750 billion CFA francs ($1.48 billion) would be used to renovate the Bamako-Dakar railway, linking Mali to the Senegalese capital to the west.
Other projects include the construction of a fourth bridge across the Niger river in Bamako and the construction of roads, especially in the north of the country, which was seized by a mix of separatist and al Qaeda-linked rebels in 2012.
French troops were scrambled to scatter the Islamist fighters, and a U.N. peacekeeping mission has since deployed. But slow progress has left Keita struggling to retain the popular support that swept him to power last year.
The statement also lists planned housing, energy and education projects.
The $11 billion includes $51 million in gifts and interest-free loans from China announced by the government on Friday.
Mali secured more than $4 billion in donor pledges last year.
(1 US dollar = 506.6500 CFA francs)
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
BAMAKO (Reuters) - Landlocked Mali aims to diversify its mining sector away from gold with Chinese-built rail projects worth $9.5 billion that would link it to the Atlantic coast, even as slowing Chinese growth and falling commodity prices cool investment.
The West African nation - the continent's third-largest gold producer - said last month it had signed a string of investment deals with China totalling $11 billion, with most of this going to finance the rail deals. Chinese authorities, however, have not confirmed the investment.
Mali said $8 billion would finance a 900-km (560-mile) railway to Guinea's port capital Conakry and $1.5 billion would renovate a rail link to Senegal's capital Dakar, Mali's main gateway port.
The improved transport links would attract investors to under-explored resources such as iron ore, bauxite and uranium that are bulkier and more costly to transport than gold.
"The infrastructure will enable Mali to end its dependency on gold," said Lassana Guindo, an adviser at the mines ministry.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is striving to kick start Mali's economy after a brief French-led war in early 2013 against northern Islamist rebels dragged it into recession. Last week it also became the sixth West African country to be touched by the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed nearly 5,000 people and hammered regional trade.
No deadline has been set for delivery of the rail projects but Mohamed Saïba Soumano, an adviser in Mali's transport ministry, said talks were underway after the Chinese delegation's visit to Bamako on Oct. 13.
China Railway Engineering Corporation would build the Bamako-Conakry leg while China Railway Construction Corporation would be responsible for Bamako-Dakar, Soumano said. He said the parties would sign tripartite framework deals between Mali-China-Guinea and Mali-China-Senegal.
"After the framework agreements, the Chinese partner will have up to 12 months to present a detailed preliminary project," Soumano said. "Thereafter, China will submit financing proposals with Chinese banks to the states."
Mali's drive to attract mining investors comes at a time of falling prices for many commodities and weak growth in China and other leading economies. Iron ore prices, for instance, have plummeted nearly 40 percent so far this year amid softening demand from China, the world's largest consumer of most commodities.
With a global surplus of supply, several iron miners have scaled back on new capital-intensive projects, while leading producers Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are focusing on increasing production at their low-cost Australian operations.
In Sierra Leone, London Mining Plc announced this month it would enter administration due to the slump in iron prices and the impact of the Ebola virus on its operations.
"In West Africa, with infrastructure to build -- even if it is funded by the Chinese -- it will be very demanding in these market conditions," said Chris Hinde of SNL Metals & Mining. "Funding for exploration and for projects in countries perceived as less stable remains very difficult."
Tom Wilson, director of the Africa Practice consultancy, said he would be surprised if the $11 billion announced by the government was fully deployed.
"China has a history of pledging, in non-binding MoUs, to make major, multi-billion dollar investments in infrastructure in West Africa and failing to deliver," Wilson said. "Chinese parastatals are not spending as they have done in the past."
Nevertheless, some plans are already going ahead.
Chinese diversified company CGCOC Group plans to exploit Mali's 100 million tonnes Bale iron deposit, 220 km (136 miles) west of Bamako. "The company will build a steel plant and also construct a 400 megawatt power plant," said Ousmane Mamadou Konaté, a technical adviser on a Malian delegation to China in September.
The firm has not commented on the deal but its President Ji Weimin signed a deal last week with mines minister Boubou Cisse to modernise Mali's national mines laboratory.
Aside from Bale, other iron ore deposits in the same basin are estimated to hold some 400 million tonnes and would all benefit from the rail project, Guindo said.
Eurasian Natural Resources Company, which holds the rights to Mali's estimated 439 million tonne bauxite deposit in Falea, also stands to benefit from the prospective railway.
ENRC country manager Dialla Konate said the company is targetting production of about 152 million tonnes of alumina - used to produce aluminium - from Falea and other Malian projects.
"In our ongoing feasibility study, we plan to use both rail lines to Conakry and to Dakar," Konate said.

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