Trans-Kalahari Route Trumps Techobanine In Botswana Coal Competition

Two competing routes to facilitate the transport of coal from Botswana to a seaport are under review. On the one hand, the proposed route through Zimbabwe to Mozambique's planned Techobanine port has already been trialled, has no need for government subsidies, and the port will be ideally located for Botswana's key Asian markets. However, there are numerous drawbacks to this scheme, and we feel the suggested Trans-Kalahari rail route to Namibia's Walvis Bay port offers greater advantages overall due to the lack of transit fees, and the fact that the route's terrain and the well established nature of the Walvis Bay port will result in a quicker completion time for the project.

Botswana's coal production volumes are escalating rapidly, and it is benefiting from booming demand from power-hungry Asian markets. However as a landlocked nation, it needs to establish a regular, reliable route linking its coal fields to a port in order to capitalise on this Asian demand. At present the Botswana government and Chamber of Mines are choosing between two alternate projects. One entails constructing a small railway to Zambia, running along the existing Limpopo rail network into Mozambique, and constructing another small railway down to the coast. There, near Maputo, the Techobanine port would be constructed. The project would be completed after 2017.

The second proposal is for the construction of another 1,500km railway, through the Kalahari Desert and into Namibia, where the railway would lead to the Walvis Bay port. Costing between US$11bn and US$15bn approximately, there are signs that a government agreement is imminent. It has been delayed since April 2013 due to various obstacles, and the launch of the Techobanine proposal. However, at present, no agreements have been signed and sealed with either Namibia or Mozambique and Zambia.

Botswana's Coal Road Map
Potential Coal Transport Routes

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This article is tagged to:
Sector: Freight Transport, Shipping
Geography: Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe

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