Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Monday, 6 April 2009 15:40 UK

Cash for key African trade routes

Truck at Zambian border
Trucks wait three to four days to cross the Zambia-Zimbabwe border

More than $1bn (£675m) has been pledged by international donors for the upgrade of transport links across East and Southern Africa.

The North-South Corridor initiative aims to get goods to market faster and cheaper with improved infrastructure and more efficient border crossings.

The project aims to raise the living standard of millions of people.

The money will come from the World Bank, international development agencies and the private sector.

The UK has also committed £100m to the project at a conference in Zambia.

Long wait

In order to speed up the transportation of goods from Tanzania, via Zambia to the ports of South Africa, the project will remove red tape and oversee the upgrade of 8000 km of road and 600 km of rail track.

The BBC's reporter Jo Fidgen, reporting from Zambia's busiest border post, Chirundu, says truckers currently have to wait three or four days before they can enter Zimbabwe.

The project aims to cut waiting times to two hours by streamlining procedures, she says, which should also reduce HIV transmission rates as truckers will have less time to spend with sex workers at the border.

The estimated total cost of improving transport and trade links in the region is $12bn to be spent over two decades.

The cooperation of eight African countries - Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa - is needed for the project to be successful.

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