Zambia, DRC and Angola eye new economic opportunities in Lobito Corridor

by MMC
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The Lobito Corridor – a trade route linking southern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and northwestern Zambia to global markets via the Lobito port in Angola – is attracting growing attention. It is seen not only as an export route for mining products, but also as an artery for future economic growth.

The regions concerned within the DRC And Zambia are rich in copper, cobalt and other essential minerals needed for the transition to green energy. Copper is essential for capturing, storing and transporting energy from renewable sources, while cobalt is used in lithium-ion batteries for electric cars.

Earlier this month, the E.U. and U.S. revealed collaboration to support the development of the corridor. This includes launching feasibility studies for the extension of a new rail line between Zambia and Angola.

Last year, a consortium made up of Singapore-based commodities trader Trafigura, Portuguese construction company Mota-Engil and rail operator Vecturis. obtained a concession to operate, manage and maintain the existing railway from Lobito to Luau in eastern Angola, near the border with the DRC. The railway stretches almost 1,300km across Angola and extends a further 400km into the DRC, reaching Kolwezi, a major mining centre.

For the mining industry, the railway presents the quickest and most direct route to the port from Kolwezi. Exports of copper, cobalt and other raw materials from this region are growing sharply and are expected to remain in high demand as the energy transition accelerates. Currently, these metals are shipped from the DRC to the east via Dar es Salaam in Tanzaniavia Beira to Mozambique, or south via Durban in South Africa – a journey that spans several weeks or more. As export volumes increased, roads became more congested and border delays lengthened. This new export corridor, using existing national rail infrastructure, takes trucks off the roads and provides copperbelt miners with significant cost and time savings in reaching international markets.

According to Jeremy Weir, CEO of Trafigura, the railway will not only establish a new route to the raw materials market, but it also has the potential to boost growth of sectors along the linelike heavy industry, agricultureand mining, creating new opportunities.

A White House statement said that in addition to improving the corridor’s transportation infrastructure, the U.S.-EU partnership will explore cooperation in the development of green energy projects to increase supplying electricity to neighboring communities, supporting investments in critical minerals and clean energy supply chains, and expanding agricultural value chains to improve local food production.

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