Within the scope of the UIC African Region, the first training course on track maintenance has been organised for senior managers from around a dozen African rail networks at the Moroccan National Railways (ONCF) Rail Training Centre in Rabat from 20 October to 1 November 2014.
The opening ceremony of this important programme was presided by Mr Aziz Rabbah, Morocco’s Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Logistics, in the presence of Ambassadors from several African countries, Mr Mohamed Rabie Khlie, Director General of ONCF and Chairman of the UIC African Region, as well as Coordinator of the said region within this body.
Following two successive training programmes on railway security held in Rabat in May 2013 and 2014, the second key theme of the training focusing on track maintenance was chosen in accordance with the needs of the African rail networks and the recommendations of the study on “Revitalising Railways in Africa: Destination 2040”, which was presented by the African Transport Ministers during the third conference held in April 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
There is a considerable need among most Sub-Saharan African railways to rehabilitate their production systems. According to the aforementioned study, this would require the upgrade of around 81,000 km at a cost of approximately 24 billion dollars between now and 2040, as well as the construction of 13,200 km of new lines for an investment of 26 billion dollars.
To make the training course more relevant, attractive, and to achieve the expected targets, a host of pedagogical techniques have been adopted. The programme includes theory classes, case studies and conferences on specific topics jointly delivered by UIC and ONCF experts, as well as visits to specific sites.
Furthermore, it should be noted that ONCF continues to take an increasing number of initiatives to share its experience and know-how, in order to give new impetus and boost the South-South partnership in the various railway fields. The aim is to help establish an African rail transport system that is reliable and viable, taking into account sustainable development and economic inclusion within the continent.
These actions are reflected in the figures: over the last four years, around 120 African railway staff members have benefited from multidisciplinary training within the Moroccan railway network, 50 senior managers have conducted visits to share information and best practice (following recommendations of funders and specialist railway institutions) – in addition to the organisation of one to two seminars and/or conferences centred around current issues facing African railway networks.
Initiatives such as these are in keeping with the policy outlined by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, in the area of strengthening South-South cooperation and improving the position and competitiveness of the African continent on the international stage.
UIC has brought together its experts from various specialist subject areas to give this training course the necessary scope and efficiency it requires.