The Longest Bridge in Africa

Tanzania has unveiled ambitious plans to construct what would be by far the largest bridge in Africa, a 50km structure connecting the mainland to the Zanzibar islands to boost trade. 


The country has been looking to diversify the economy of the Zanzibar islands, home to 1.6m people, which depends mainly on 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 on the island are cassava, sweet potatoes, rice, corn, plantains, citrus fruit, cloves, coconuts and cacao. 


Currently, Egypt boasts Africa’s longest bridge in Cairo, which spans 20.5km, but the new project would be more than double that in length. 


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 create better trading links with countries in areas like West Africa. 

According to the state newspaper The Citizen, the Tanzanian government is discussing potential investment with China Overseas Engineering Group (COVEC). 


So far, the government has given no indication of when construction might begin. However, Tanzania has been mooting the idea of creating 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. It is also seeking proposals to design and build an electrified railway to connect with Burundi that will pass through the Democratic Republic of Congo. 


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


Economists have warned that the government should conduct cost-benefit analyses before embarking on a potentially expensive mega project to ensure that the economic benefits will pay off. 


For more interesting topics, please click HERE.