Jan 24, 2017: Tanzania is looking for funds from state-owned Export Credit Bank of Turkey (Eximbank) to help finance a stretch of a new railway that may help open up east Africa's hinterland and compete with Kenya as a trade hub.

Tanzania plans to construct a 2,561 km standard gauge railway in an effort to connect its main port of Dar es Salaam to landlocked neighbouring countries like Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Rwanda and Uganda.

President John Magufuli has made the funding request to visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during talks in Dar es Salaam on January 23. Turkish firms are among those that have submitted bids for the standard gauge project.

Magufuli said he sought financing for a more-than 400 km stretch of track."I am confident that we will secure that loan," the Tanzanian leader said during a press briefing.

Turkey has extended trade ties with Africa since Erdogan came to power in 2002, thus bolstering strategic influence on a continent where China and other donors like Britain, France and the European Union have a strong presence.

In July, Tanzania secured a $7.6 billion loan from China's Export-Import Bank (Exim) to build part of the new railway network.Magufuli and Erdogan signed nine agreements covering defence, transport, industry and trade. Trade between Tanzania and Turkey almost trebled to $190 million last year from $66 million five years earlier.

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