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Afreximbank and Thelo DB renew partnership for the development of railways in Africa

November 23, 2022

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) renewed a partnership agreement with South Africa-based Thelo DB Proprietary Limited (Thelo DB), signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to support railway corridor and network development, operations, including the opportunity to expand infrastructure and enhance operational efficiencies of existing networks. The MoU, which was first entered into in 2019, aims to promote trade and investment flows on the continent through coordinated intervention in Africa's railway sector.

The MoU was signed on the side-lines of the recently concluded Africa Investment Forum 2022 (AIF) in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.

Under the terms of the MoU, Thelo DB will review each railway project from a technical perspective and provide technical solutions. Afreximbank will consider the diagnostic technical and feasibility analysis undertaken by Thelo DB and based on that propose financial and advisory solutions to the owners of the railway infrastructure.

In the past 3 years, Afreximbank and Thelo DB have obtained an in depth understanding of the railway ecosystem on the continent that has culminated in the development of a bespoke first-of-a-kind railway solution well suited to the continent's railway needs. This solution is being deployed in Ghana to develop the Western Railway Corridor project under a Railway Management Agreement executed on 22nd August 2022.

Under the MoU, Afreximbank and Thelo DB intend to replicate and rollout this solution across the continent.

Mr. Ronnie Ntuli, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Thelo DB said: 'We are both proud and excited to renew our Memorandum of Understanding with African Export Import Bank. This signing provides Thelo DB with the unique opportunity to further deepen our working relationship with Africa's pre-eminent trade finance institution and thus provide integrated technical and financing solutions for development of the continent's railway sector on a sustainable basis. In turn, the partnership presents a much-needed intervention for infrastructure development, freight and passenger transportation solutions, trade, training and skills transfer, economic development, and regional integration.'

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President & Chairman of Afreximbank commented: 'Today's renewal of the MoU signed three years ago between Afreximbank and Thelo DB is a reaffirmation of our joint commitment to engineer fit-for-purpose technical and financial solutions that will address the shortcoming of the railway sector in Africa which has been undermined by inadequate capital structure, inappropriate route designs, and operational inefficiencies. With this partnership, we will develop a blueprint that can be replicated across the continent through an integrated railway model that constitutes a paradigm shift away from the traditional railway construction approach. As such, we at Afreximbank intend to advance this novel approach alongside our partner, Thelo DB, by deploying the full suite of financial instruments at our disposal to facilitate the implementation of technically feasible and financially viable railway solutions in a timely manner.'

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