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From Botswana to Namibia: getting the Trans-Kalahari railway on track

Katrina Michelle Simon-Agolory (Namibia Business School, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia)

Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies

ISSN: 2045-0621

Publication date: 25 February 2019


Learning outcomes

By the end of the case and class discussion, students will be able to estimate project costs and benefits, both tangible and intangible, analyse enterprise environmental factors that may impact a project, identify the complexities of managing a multinational project and evaluate a project status and determine if continuation or cessation is the best option.

Case overview/synopsis

This case narrates the story to connect landlocked Botswana’s rich coalfields with the Namibian coast. In 2005, the Governments of Botswana and Namibia started discussions to bring forth a 1,500-km railway that traverses the two countries to the Port of Walvis Bay. In total, 10 years and many lengthy negotiations later, the Trans-Kalahari Railway (TKR) Project Management Office finally opened in Windhoek in April 2015. The project is expected to cost US$14.2bn and will be developed via a public-private partnership approach based on a DBOOT contractual arrangement, whereby a developer undertakes the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the project. This case illustrates the complexities of managing a multinational project. After much slower than expected progress, the viability of the project is questioned.

Complexity academic level

This case is intended for post-graduate business students and MBA students who are studying in a management curriculum. It is primarily written for students in a project management course but may also be used for other courses, such as a negotiation class. The case can be used with undergraduate students by modifying the case questions.

Supplementary materials

Teaching Notes are available for educators only. Please contact your library to gain login details or email to request teaching notes.

Subject code

CSS 7: Management science.



Disclaimer. This case is written solely for educational purposes and is not intended to represent successful or unsuccessful managerial decision-making. The authors may have disguised names; financial and other recognisable information to protect confidentiality.

The author wishes to thank Mr Phillipus Mwapopi, 2016 graduate of the Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration at Namibia Business School, who assisted with the case interviews and research. The author is also very grateful to Claire Beswick, Case Centre Manager at Wits Business School in South Africa, who very generously gave me her time, energy and guidance. The author is grateful to The Case Centre that provided me with the financial, professional and moral support required to write this paper.


Simon-Agolory, K.M. (2019), "From Botswana to Namibia: getting the Trans-Kalahari railway on track", Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies, Vol. 9 No. 1.



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