Rail Linking Botswana, Zimbabwe to New Port in Mozambique to Move and Monetize Minerals

In order to move and monetize the vast mining resources of landlocked Botswana and Zimbabwe as well as coastal Mozambique, the three countries have initiated tripartite talks with the objective to rehabilitate and extend regional rail links.

Mozambique has recently completed the upgrade of the Beira-Machipanda rail line. Work has started on a short 10-km extension of the line across the border from Machipanda in Mozambique to Mutare in Zimbabwe. From Mutare, the train will be connected to the Zimbabwean domestic rail line which goes to Bulawayo, and eventually to Plumtree on the border with Botswana.

In the same vein, Zimbabwe and Botswana held advanced talks on the setting up of a One-Stop Border Post (#OSBP) at Plumtree near the border crossing between the two countries.

Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa Joins Mozambique President Nyusi to Inaugurate the Beira-Machipanda Upgraded Rail Line

It is to be recalled that Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa joined Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi to attend the official launch of the upgraded Beira-Machipanda rail line back in November 2023. The cost of the upgrade of the nearly 300-km rail segment was estimated at USD 200 million.

The 8th Joint Permanent Cooperation Commission between Mozambique and Botswana convened a meeting from 6 to 8 July 2024 in Maputo. The key cooperation project was the construction of a new port in southern-most Mozambican district of Matutuine.

“We are working with our brothers so that we can extend the Beira-Machipanda railway line to Zimbabwe, and eventually to Botswana.”

Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi

The proposed project is to build a new deep-water bulk cargo terminal near the capital city of Maputo in order to facilitate the export of minerals. Initially, Dobela was proposed but after receent talks, it would appear that the focus has shifted to Techobanine.

During the commissioning of the dualization of railway tracks on the Ressano Garcia line, linking Maputo to South Africa, on Monday, President Nyusi painted the vision to extend the Machipanda line all the way to Botswana, passing through Zimbabwe.

Thus, Botswana will be connected by rail to Techobanine port via a 1,700-km railway, traversing Zimbabwe. The ambitious regional rail project is estimated to cost about USD 6.5 billion and would necessitate synergy and coordination among three countries.

The Botswana-Zimbabwe-Mozambique rail link would give a great boost to the exploitation and export of the generous amount mining resources that both Zimbabwe and Botswana are endowed with. In particular, Botswana has vast reserves of coal, while Zimbabwe is rich in minerals such as copper, ferrochrome, and lithium.

A draft tripartite agreement on cooperation to enhance regional connectivity is being circulated and reviewed. From sources close to the matter, ‘a signature is expected very soon.’