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Tanzania's President Samia Suluhu Hassan has emphasised the urgent need to close connectivity gaps in Africa to fast-track economic growth. She also acknowledged the critical role of the private sector in the growth of the continent’s economies and asked governments to embrace private enterprises.

She was speaking in Marrakech, Morocco on Wednesday in a presidential panel in the ongoing Africa Investment Forum.

The forum is organised by the Pan-African lender African Development Bank (AfDB) and other multilateral financial institutions.

This year’s theme is “Unlocking Africa’s Value Chains”.

President Samia said roads, railways and waterways will be critical in moving goods and people across the continent and outlined Tanzania’s plan to connect East, Central and Southern Africa.

“Connectivity is critical on our continent. I once attended a conference in Senegal, and I had first to go to Paris and then fly back to Africa. That’s a problem,” she said.

Noting that Tanzania shares borders with eight countries with whom it is connected by road, rail, water and air, she said her government was upgrading the old railway network while building a standard gauge railway line from the port of Dar es Salaam to connect to Burundi through the Democratic Republic of Congo then Rwanda and Uganda.

She also said Tanzania is ramping up mining of the strategic minerals critical for the global energy transition and greening of economies.

“We have cobalt, graphite, lithium and others. But we also have other energy sources, including gas and hydro,” she said.

Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente, who was also on the panel, called for resource cooperation and action for Africa to realise its development goals.

“The president of Tanzania mentioned the connectivity issue, which is very important because the connectivity facilitates not only the movement of goods but also people. African countries need to cooperate and work together for action because we already know the problem,” he said. - JACKSON MUTINDA, The EastAfrican

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