THE African Development Bank (AfDB) and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) have joined the United States, the European Union (EU), Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Zambia in signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop the Lobito Corridor and the new Zambia - Lobito line.

The AFC has been appointed lead project developer to work with the other signatories. The proposed line runs from Luacano in Angola to Kalumbila in Zambia, continuing to connect with the existing network at Chingola, which runs across the border to the DRC.

The MoU, signed on the margins of the Global Gateway Forum in Brussels, Belgium, on October 26, outlines the signatories’ intention to collaborate across multiple sectors to realise the full economic potential of the corridor, building on the Lobito Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency agreement signed by the three African governments in January and anchored by previous investment in the new Zambia - Lobito line.

The EU and US previously confirmed a joint commitment to support pre-feasibility studies for an extension of the corridor from eastern Angola to Zambia during the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGI) event at the G20 Summit in Delhi on September 9.

Following the signing of the MoU, AFC will work with the other parties to launch the feasibility and preparatory studies necessary to further prepare the project, which is due to begin before the end of this year.

“AFC is committed to collaborating with all parties as lead project developer on the expansion of the Lobito Corridor, a signature initiative of the Biden administration’s PGI and the EU’s Global Gateway Initiative,” says AFC president and CEO, Mr Samaila Zubairu. “There is an urgent need for transport infrastructure on the continent and this project presents a transformative opportunity to enhance regional connectivity, unlock the critical minerals supply chain, promote trade, create local jobs, and drive economic growth in Africa.

“AFC will leverage its expertise in de-risking projects and mobilising financing at scale to ensure the successful implementation of this vital initiative. We will do so while meeting the expectations of our private shareholders and our government partners.”

The MoU was signed by US deputy assistant to the president for energy and Investment, Mr Amos Hochstein, EU commissioner for international partnerships, Ms Jutta Urpilainen, Angolan minister of state for economic coordination, Mr José de Lima Massano, the prime minister of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mr Jean-Michel Lukonde, Zambian minister of finance and national planning, Mr Situmbeko Musokotwane, AfDB vice-president, Mr Solomon Quaynor, and AFC board member and head of financial services, Mr Sanjeev Gupta.

“The new line, connecting northwest Zambia to the Lobito Atlantic Railway and the port of Lobito, represents the most significant transport infrastructure that the United States has helped develop on the African continent in a generation and will enhance regional trade and growth as well as advance the shared vision of connected, open-access rail from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean,” says the US State Department’s PGI special coordinator, Ms Helaina Matza. “Demonstrating the PGI in action and leveraging both western and African capital, this strategic transport infrastructure unlocks regional trade and enables additional investments in digital connectivity, agriculture value chains, green energy supply chains and rural health centre electrification, among other transformative economic imperatives.”

“Global Gateway provides the frame for ambitious and strategic partnerships driving structural transformation,” says European Commission president, Ms Ursula von der Leyen. “The new partnerships with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia will support the development of sustainable and resilient value chains of critical raw materials, while creating quality local jobs. The Lobito transport corridor will also be a game-changer to boost regional and global trade.”

“This MoU demonstrates the premise of our model, that African project development expertise and African capital can be the enabler to crowding-in global public and private financing to meet Africa’s vast infrastructure needs,” Gupta says. “The Lobito Corridor expansion project showcases the power of partnerships and international collaboration. It is a testament to the shared vision of creating a prosperous Africa by facilitating the seamless movement of goods and people across the continent. As AFC leads this partnership toward implementation, it will serve to demonstrate the immense scope of opportunity for the continent, creating a positive impact on regional growth, job creation and livelihoods.”

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