The AFRICA EXPRESS team, who along with a number of other economic and institutional partners were welcomed to UIC at a press conference launch on 11 April, has finally set off on 25 April by train, thus beginning a journey of just under one year with the aim of promoting renewable energy projects across the African continent. The train shall run through 23 countries from Tangier to Cape Town in South Africa, then carry on northwards to the rift valley in the east of the continent.
Claire Guibert and Jérémy Debreu, the in-the-field members of the AFRICA EXPRESS team, travelled by train from Tangier to Rabat on 25 April to meet Moroccan Railways authorities. Mr Mohammed Rabie Khlie, CEO of Morrocan Railways is also Chairman of UIC Africa. In addition to UIC’s support, Moroccan Railways are also backing this project. “The fact that Morocco has been chosen as the official starting point of this undertaking is a testament to its valuable assets; its location at the crossroads between Europe, North Africa and the Mediterranean at large, and its position as a lead player in rail transport in the Arab and African world are the reasons it has been given this privileged role.”
UIC was represented by Mr Jean-Pierre Lehman, Director at UIC and Coordinator of its African Region. Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General, who was unable to attend the event, nevertheless delivered a message of UIC’s support for this initiative, stating that “UIC is pleased to be part of this initiative, where the train is seen to be the main vehicle for sustainable development and peaceful links between all the countries through which it passes during this AFRICA EXPRESS project, undertaken on the African continent.”
The fact that the organisers have symbolically chosen a train as the means of travel for this project highlights how closely connected and interdependent the areas of activity conducted by UIC and AFRICA EXPRESS are. Among UIC’s chief tasks is to make transport by rail more efficient and competitive so that it can help serve sustainable development even further.
The development of rail transport is currently being promoted across the world for its environmental credentials, hence our close cooperation with key international bodies such as the UN, UNEP and the World Bank which are involved in the promotion and financing of transport systems. Beyond these recognised advantages UIC, together with its members and the supply industry, is actively involved in improving environmental performance: reducing noise and all forms of pollution, optimising the use of energy, etc.
By drawing the attention of the public and economic stakeholders to AFRICA EXPRESS, its initiators will demonstrate how all the projects of vital importance to the African population – whether related to energy or transport mobility – need to be firmly placed under the banner of sustainable development and economic reality. It is to this end that UIC wishes AFRICA EXPRESS every success in its efforts.
The AFRICA EXPRESS project is followed with keen interest by UIC, and throughout its journey through the various countries in Africa short blog-posts will be published in UIC eNews so that you can regularly share in the stories encountered along the way.
As part of the launch of AFRICA EXPRESS, UIC reiterated – through Jean-Pierre Lehman, Coordinator of UIC Africa, and under the impetus of the UIC Sustainable Development team – that our association was also involved in the work of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the Rio+20 Earth Summit due to meet from 20 – 22 June this year in Rio de Janeiro. To this extent, UIC has asked the AFRICA EXPRESS team and each UIC member to film their own symbolic whistle blast under the theme “Whistle for Rio”. The footage will be compiled with all the other whistle blasts from UIC members into a short video presentation, which will be shown in Rio to promote the benefits of the railways in terms of sustainable development.
The support video from the sponsor of AFRICA EXPRESS Yann Arthus-Bertrand is available at: