The EU has agreed a major new strategic partnership on critical raw materials value chains with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia.
It was signed at the Global Gateway Forum which took place in Brussels on 26 October.
EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the further development of the “Lobito Corridor”, together with the US, DRC, Zambia, Angola, the African Development Bank and the Africa Finance Corporation.
The transport corridor will connect the southern part of the DRC and the north-western part of the Republic of Zambia to regional and global trade markets via the Port of Lobito in Angola.
The MoU outlines the collaboration between the different partners involved and defines roles and objectives for the development of the Lobito Corridor. The partnership draws from financial resources and technical know-how to accelerate the development of the transport route, including investments in digital access and agricultural value chains that will increase regional competitiveness.
Cooperation will focus on three areas: transport infrastructure investments; measures to facilitate trade, economic development and transit; and support to related sectors to fuel inclusive and sustainable economic growth and capital investment in the three African countries in the longer term.
“The Lobito transport corridor will be a game changer to boost regional and global trade”, said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“The Lobito Corridor and partners’ strong ownership is an example of the transformative power of our strategic partnership with Africa,” added Urpilainen.
Once fully operational, the aim of the rail line is to enhance export possibilities for Zambia, Angola and the DRC, boost the circulation of goods and promote the mobility of citizens.
According to the US Department of State, the corridor 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.
“The Lobito Corridor goes beyond the railway connection between DRC, Zambia and Angola. This new connection will boost several industries such as raw materials and agriculture. In fact, Angola can play a key role to safeguard food security in the region through the Lobito Corridor”, said José de Lima Massano, Minister of State for Economic Coordination of Angola.
The US-EU investment partnership will combine financial resources and technical know-how to accelerate the Lobito Corridor development, including by launching feasibility studies for a new greenfield rail line expansion between Zambia and Angola, upgrading critical infrastructure across sub-Saharan Africa and investing in digital access and agricultural value chains that will increase regional competitiveness.
As an immediate next step, the US and EU will support the governments in launching pre-feasibility studies for the construction of the new Zambia-Lobito railway line from eastern Angola through northern Zambia, building on a previous initiative to refurbish the railway section from the Lobito port in Angola to the DRC.
Besides providing a lower carbon footprint alternative to the traditional road transport, the Lobito Corridor can reduce the average travel time from 30 days to just 8, as the railway bypasses congested roads, border posts and ports encountered along different routes, according to the Africa Report.
Source : EU Reporter