Studies are being commissioned towards the proposed construction of the railway which is set to link the Copper Belt region of Zambia with the Katanga region in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to Railway Gazette International, the new rail line will also connect to the existing railway to the port of Lobito in Angola.
This railway infrastructure development is expected to form part of the envisaged Trans-African Corridor.
The studies agreed by the three countries will be bankrolled by the European Union and the United States of America through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.
Launched in 2022, the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment is an alternative China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
A statement from both the EU and US governments is to the effect that their joint 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 millimetre gauge Benguela railway route from Lobito to the border with DR Congo.
The Benguela Railway is a Cape gauge railway which cuts across Angola from west to east. It connects to Tenke in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to the Cape to Cairo Railway.
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 the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen during the Partnership for Global Infrastructure & Investment event at the G20 summit in New Delhi.
“Our partnership will also invest in local value chains, in clean energy and in skills for the local workforce,” said Der Leyen.
She added that “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.”
Zambia is already linked to Tanzania through the TAZARA Railway, while DR Congo also plans to have the country connected to Tanzania’s new Standard Gauge Rail currently in works.