Empowering Angola, DRC, And Zambia: G7's PGI Initiative Takes Shape

In 2022, the global spotlight was captured by the ambitious formation of the PGI (Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment) during the G7 summit. This initiative, endorsed by all G7 partner countries, represents a significant step forward in bridging the infrastructure gaps in emerging economies. With a robust strategy to deploy $600 billion in infrastructure investment over the next five years, the commitment is clear. In a demonstration of its staunch support for this initiative, the U.S. government pledged a substantial $200 billion of the total.

During the G7 summit in Hiroshima last spring, President Biden unveiled his “economic corridor approach.” The flagship project under this vision is the expansion of the Trans-Africa connection, particularly the Lobito Corridor. This corridor aims to enhance connectivity, especially between nations such as Angola, DRC, and Zambia. With investments primarily targeting Angola, intending to improve connections from the Port of Lobito to the DRC border and further into Kolwezi in DRC.

Recently, the European Union announced its partnership with the U.S. to develop the full corridor. The EU’s participation will assist in some of the feasibility work for a greenfield rail expansion that will cover the southern portion of Angola and cut across Zambia.

From the U.S.’s perspective, the commitment extends beyond mere financial support. Mechanisms are being established to not only foster the development of this expansive greenfield rail but also to support associated projects that leverage the connectivity the rail offers. The Millennium Challenge Corporation is already active in Zambia, exploring opportunities to connect feeder roads to the rail. This is to ensure that not only critical minerals but also agribusinesses, among others benefit, as goods can be transported seamlessly by rail.

The timelines set for this project are ambitious, with aspirations to begin pre-feasibility or feasibility work by the end of this year. The broader vision seeks to provide Zambia, DRC, and Angola with improved access to global markets, primarily via a western-facing route. This would revolutionise cross-border commerce, cutting transportation times from weeks to just three to four days. Such a rail network not only promises swifter access to international markets, like Europe and the U.S., but also better interconnectivity within Africa, alleviating congestion and enhancing trade.

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