Studies are to be undertaken for the construction of a railway linking the Copper Belt region of Zambia with the Katanga region of DR Congo and the existing railway to the port of Lobito in Angola.

This would form part of a planned Trans-African Corridor.

The studies agreed upon by the three countries will be backed by the European Union and the USA through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure & Investment, which was launched in 2022 as an alternative to China’s Belt & Road Initiative.

The EU and US governments said the support will combine financial resources and technical know-how in a collaborative approach which could be replicated in other strategic corridors around the world

As the next step, the EU and USA will support the launch of pre-feasibility studies. This will build on initial US-led support for the modernisation of the existing 1 067 mm gauge Benguela railway route from Lobito to the border with DR Congo.

The new railway is intended to enhance exports, boost the circulation of goods in the region and promote the mobility of local people, significantly reducing average transport times while lowering the cost and carbon footprint of exporting metals, agricultural goods and other products.

‘Our goal is not only to connect a land-locked region to the sea’, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the Partnership for Global Infrastructure & Investment event at the G20 summit in New Delhi on September 9. ‘Our partnership will also invest in local value chains, in clean energy and in skills for the local workforce. This is the spirit of PGII: it is a whole new approach to large infrastructure investment. It is about shared prosperity. It is about real benefits for all partners.’