Angola, Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have taken major steps to create a trade corridor that could transform how the region’s resources are shipped.
Transport ministers for the three countries have signed an agreement to facilitate the Lobito Corridor, which will connect the Atlantic Ocean port of Lobito in Angola with mining hinterlands.
The Lobito Corridor will cross Angola and link up with the mining areas of Katanga province in the DRC and the Copperbelt in Zambia.
Harmonising regulations on the corridor and developing infrastructure would allow the three countries to transport metals used to make electric vehicles and wind turbines from inland mines to port, cutting transport times from weeks to days.
The agreement will allow the three states – all members of the South African Development Community (SADC) to jointly develop harmonised corridor regulations and systems to foster infrastructure development.
“The Lobito Corridor presents an alternative strategic route to export markets for Zambia and DRC and offers the shortest route linking key mining regions in these two countries to the sea,” said the SADC.
“In Angola, the corridor connects 40% of the country’s population and several large-scale investments are taking place in agriculture and retail in the provinces of Benguela, Huambo, Bie, and Moxico.”
South African analysts have expressed fears that the development of the Lobito Corridor could lead to lost business for country’s ports – which currently serve as hubs for shipping copper and cobalt from DRC and Zambia.
Earlier this month Zambia announced plans to import fuel from oil-producing neighbour Angola to lower pump prices and guarantee supply.
Zambia is to buy a stake in Angola’s Lobito refinery. Zambian president Hakainde Hichilema said: “It makes no sense to import fuel from other parts of the world when we have a neighbouring producer.
“I don't know how we have managed to maintain this situation of buying fuel from Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world and not from our neighbour.”
The refinery is expected to produce up to 200,000 barrels per day when completed.
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