Neels Blom Writer at large

Transnet, SA’s beleaguered state-owned rail operator, has taken over from General Electric (GE) as the lead consortium partner in a $2bn Nigerian narrow-gauge railway concession, giving it the lion’s share of the deal. Transnet announced in 2017 that it was seeking to expand operations in Senegal, Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. In the same year it and its consortium partners were selected preferred bidders in the Nigerian rail rehabilitation project. It first began exploring African opportunities in 2015 when it announced its Africa strategy. Former public enterprises minster Lynne Brown said at the time that Transnet needed to diversify its revenue sources in response to the economic slowdown in South Africa. Intra-African trade accounts for less than a fifth of total continental exports, according to the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index. Only six of the 46 African countries ranked are in the top two categories, 18 are rank...

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