Luanda — The United States and the European Union have encouraged the commitment of Angola, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to develop the Lobito Corridor, ANGOP has learnt.
The US and EU also announced their intention to launch a feasibility study of the railway line.
In a joint statement the US and EU reiterate their readiness to support the development of the Corridor, with a focus on the new expansion of the railway line that stretches between Angola and Zambia.
The Lobito Corridor covers the port of Lobito, the mining terminal and the Benguela railway (CFB), which stretches for more than 1,300 kilometers from the province of Benguela to Luau, in the province of Moxico.
It then continues for another 400 kilometers in the DRCongo to Kolwezi, the heart of the mining area known as the Copperbelt, and is directly connected to the railway network managed by the National Railway Society of Congo (SNCC).
In the document, the US and the EU highlighted the fact that the infrastructure connects the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo and northwest Zambia to regional and global commercial markets through the Port of Lobito, in the Angolan province of Benguela.
The statement released by the website “www.whitehouse.gov” states that the bet represents a strong evolution of the “partnership of partnership” element for global infrastructures and investments.
They consider it to be a collaborative approach that could be replicated in other strategic corridors around the world.
The US-EU partnership ensures it will modernise “critical infrastructure” across Sub-Sharan Africa to unlock the region’s “enormous potential.”
They said to be excited to join forces to generate economic benefits with our partners in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.
The partnership commits to combining financial resources and technical expertise to accelerate the development of the Lobito Corridor, including investments in digital access and agricultural value chains that will increase regional competitiveness.
As an immediate next step, according to the statement, the US and EU will support governments in launching pre-feasibility studies for the construction of the new Lobito-Zambia railway line, from eastern Angola to northern Zambia.
This initiative, it added, is based on initial support led by the US to remodel the railway section from the Port of Lobito, in Angola, to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
When the transport infrastructure is fully operational, it will increase export possibilities for Zambia, Angola and the DRC, as well as boost the regional circulation of goods and promote the mobility of citizens.
Among the benefits, they point out the “significant reduction” in the average transport time, the reduction of logistics costs and carbon emissions when exporting metals.
Still within the framework of the Lobito Corridor, the US and the EU plan to explore cooperation in the areas of investment in transport infrastructure, trade facilitation and support for the promotion of capital investment in Angola, Zambia and the DRC in the long term.
The strategy includes the development of clean energy projects, support for diversified investment in “critical minerals”, expanding digital access, increasing agricultural value chains, as well as training the local workforce, supporting small/medium companies and economic diversification.
Concession took place in July
Last July, the Presidents of Angola João Lourenço and his counterparts from Zambia Hakainde Hichilema and DRC Félix Tshisekedi, gathered in Lobito to witness the transfer of railway services and supporting logistics of the Lobito Corridor to the consortium which will manage the infrastructure, under a concession for 30 years.
In January of this year, the three countries signed an agreement to create a transport and facilitation agency for the Lobito Corridor aimed to boost the circulation of goods and promote the mobility of citizens.
The Lobito Corridor concession was handed over to LAR – Lobito Atlantic Railway, a company formed by the Swiss Trafigura, the Portuguese Mota-Engil Engenharia e Construção África SA, and the Belgian Vecturis SA.
To kick off the concession, LAR has an estimated investment of US$455 million in Angola and up to US$100 million in the DRC.
Data indicates that the profitability of the railway’s potential will involve the acquisition of 1,555 wagons and 35 locomotives destined to circulate on the Angolan side of the corridor.
The concession contract can be extended for up to 50 years, if the consortium chooses to build the railway branch between Luacano (Moxico) and Jimbe (Zambia), with a total length of 259 kilometers, estimated at US$3.6 million. AL/NIC