Angola's Lobito Corridor Railway Handed Over To International Operator

Lobito Atlantic Railway will spend US$550 million upgrading infrastructure.

By Chriselle Moraes on
6th July 2023

The Municipality of Lobito in Angola hosted a ceremony on 4 July to handover the Lobito Corridor railway to its new international operator. 

The Lobito Atlantic Railway, a consortium comprising Singaporean commodities group Trafigura, Portuguese construction firm Mota-Engil and Belgian rail operator Vecturis, will operate, manage and maintain the line under a 30-year concession.

The line is intended to become a key route connecting mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the Angolan port of Lobito.

Angola's President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço said, “The Lobito Corridor, which links Angola to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and whose concession we have given today provides for its extension to Zambia, will certainly boost intra-African exports which currently account for only 14% of the total exports for the rest of the world. Figures like this show us the importance and necessity of putting our infrastructure at the service of the economic and social development of our countries and our continent. And we are doing so with vision, purpose, and clearly defined objectives.”

The Lobito Corridor comprises the 1,067mm-gauge, 1,344km Benguela railway, which runs east to west across Angola, from the port of Lobito on the Atlantic coast to Luau on the DRC border. 

The rail line extends 400km to Kolwezi in the DRC, the heart of the copperbelt.

The consortium has committed to invest significant capital to improve the rail infrastructure, including securing 1,555 wagons and 35 locomotives for just the Angolan side of the corridor. Overall, the group plans to invest US$455 million in Angola and up to US$100 million in the DRC. Further investment will be looked into as plans to extend the line into Zambia are explored.

The railway will provide various benefits, such as a faster and safer route for passengers using Angola’s CFB Benguela Railway service.

A direct route to congestion-free Lobito port will also be established from the key mining district of Kolwezi, where the production of copper, cobalt and other materials is growing rapidly. Bottlenecks and long delays are now commonplace at other East African ports due to rising mineral exports.

Jeremy Weir, speaking on behalf of the Lobito Atlantic Railway concession companies during the ceremony, said: “We have a shared vision of creating the most important logistics corridor in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our project will not only create a western route to market for goods and materials. We believe the Lobito rail corridor has huge potential to boost the development of sectors along the line including heavy industry, agriculture and mining, creating new jobs and new opportunities."

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