Tanzania plans 50km long bridge to boost Zanzibar islands’ economy

The bridge would be more than double the length of the current longest bridge in Africa, Cairo’s 20.5km long 6th October Bridge

Plans to build the largest bridge in Africa have been unveiled by Tanzania. The 50km structure will connect the mainland to the Zanzibar islands in a bid to boost trade and economy. The move is said to align with goals to diversify the economy of the Zanzibar islands, which is currently driven mainly by tourism.

Deputy Works and Transport Minister Godfrey Kasekenya said the government was talking to prospective Chinese investors about plans to finance a 50km bridge between the coastal city of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

Outside of tourism, the island’s economy almost exclusively revolves around agriculture and fishing. The principal commodities produced in the island are cassava, sweet potatoes, rice, corn, plantains, citrus fruit, cloves, coconuts and cacao.

Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has made boosting trade with the rest of the continent and taking advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement a priority for her administration. She has promised to improve trade relations between Tanzania and other east African countries, as well as creating better trading links with countries in areas like West Africa, said a report by state newspaper, the Citizen.

Stone town, Zanzibar, Tanzania

According to the report, the Tanzanian government is discussing potential investment with China Overseas Engineering Group (COVEC). Once completed, the new bridge would become the longest in Africa, eclipsing the 6th October Bridge in Cairo, Egypt, which is 20.5km long.

So far, the government has given no indication of when construction might begin. However, Tanzania has been debating the idea of a bridge to connect Dar es Salaam with Zanzibar since 2020. Tanzania is also in discussions with Kenya about building a rail link between the two countries to reduce trade barriers. In addition, it is seeking proposals to design and build an electrified railway to connect with Burundi that will pass through the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The report noted that the Zanzibar government said that it had yet to receive an official communication regarding the construction of the bridge.


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