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Lobito Corridor: US to invest in rail project linking Southern Africa mines to Angola port

The Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGI) Lobito Corridor Private Sector Investor Forum was held in Lusaka, with senior decision-makers and government officials coming together to accelerate private sector investment in the Lobito Corridor

The Lobito Corridor, the first strategic PGI economic corridor launched by US President Joe Biden at the G7 Summit in 2023 under the flagship G7 Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment initiative, is aimed at integrating the African continent. The project will enhance connections with global markets by expanding export possibilities, boosting regional trade, and growing key market segments through a trans-African rail line stretching from the Indian Ocean to its Atlantic counterpart.  The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) US$250mn investment, currently in due diligence, would support the Lobito Atlantic Railway (LAR) consortium that is upgrading and operating the 1,300 km Benguela rail line across Angola with advisory support from the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).  The LAR upgrade is anticipated to reduce transport time, better connect critical mineral-rich regions in the DRC with global markets, and lower the carbon emissions footprint of goods currently moved by road. It will also open new markets, including agribusiness.

The PGI Lobito Corridor Private Sector Investor Forum in Lusaka was convened by Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema; senior advisor to President Biden, Amos Hochstein; and president and CEO of the Africa Finance Corporation, Samaila Zubairu. It attracted more than 250 business and government leaders from across the globe, who rubbed shoulders with international investors and industry leaders also present.

At the forum, the U.S. Government and partners announced additional commitments to the corridor including:

  • DFC approved a new US$250mn debt facility to the AFC to support its efforts to develop high-quality infrastructure across the continent (the project is pending congressional review). DFC also committed to providing a US$ 10mn loan to Seba Foods Zambia, the first US food and agriculture investment along the Lobito Corridor.
  • The US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced a feasibility study grant to REV-UP Solar Ventures Zambia to develop an estimated 200MW solar power plant and battery energy storage system in Solwezi, Zambia.
  • LAR announced a six-year export shipment term sheet with Canadian mining company Ivanhoe that will advance the rail line’s ambitions to become the leading rail transport link in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • AFC has entered into an MoU with Congolese commodity trading and mining company La Générale des Carrières et des Mines (Gécamines) to undertake the development of critical minerals in the DRC.
  • AFC has signed an expression of interest with Kobaloni Energy to provide US$100mn in financing for a cobalt refinery in Chingola, Zambia, to build the first electric vehicle battery-grade cobalt sulphate plant on the African continent.

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