Trafigura and Mota-Engil aim to unlock mineral wealth and boost logistics in Southern Africa through a railway connecting the two states.
Trafigura and Mota-Engil have embarked on a strategic partnership to revitalize the railway line that links Congolese mining regions to the Atlantic Ocean. The ambitious project, operated by a consortium of investors including Trafigura, Mota-Engil, and Vecturis, seeks to connect the abundant mineral resources of the DRC, specifically those found in the Kolwezi region, with the port of Lobito in Angola, fostering economic growth and enhancing logistics efficiency in the region.
Angola’s Transport Ministry revealed that the railway initiative will not only generate more than USD 2 billion in revenue for the state over its lifetime but that the consortium will also make substantial investments in infrastructure and rolling stock, amounting to USD 256 million and USD 73 million respectively. With a corridor spanning a total length of 1,870km, of which 1,340km are situated within Angola, this venture holds significant promise for the economic development of both nations.
Trafigura and Mota-Engil secure concession
As part of the collaboration, Trafigura, a commodities trader, and Mota-Engil, a Portuguese construction company, have obtained a 30-year concession from the governments of Angola and the DRC to operate the railway line. This concession, which may be extended by an additional 20 years should the consortium decide to construct a branch line to Zambia, represents a milestone achievement in fostering trade and connectivity in the region. Furthermore, Belgian rail developer Vecturis has also joined the consortium, adding valuable expertise and resources to the project.
Boosting economic growth and logistics efficiency
With the goal of transforming the Lobito Corridor into a pivotal logistical route, this project holds great promise for Southern Africa’s economic landscape. The consortium’s bid, supported by the Angolan government’s substantial investment of USD 2 billion in rehabilitating and modernizing the corridor’s existing infrastructure, won out over the competing offer from Chinese conglomerate CITIC and the China Railway 20 Bureau Group.
Recognizing the strengths and experience that the consortium brings to the concession, when the consortium won the tender, Trafigura expressed gratitude for the rigorous evaluation process conducted by Angola’s Transport Ministry’s Commission of Evaluation. The company believes that the Lobito Corridor has the potential to become the third most vital logistics route in the Southern African Development Community region by 2050.
Enhancing efficiency and minimizing delays
The need for efficient transportation solutions to meet the rising demand for minerals essential to the energy transition, such as cobalt for lithium-ion batteries, has become increasingly urgent. Currently, congested roads and border delays hamper the export process for mining operations in the DRC. By establishing a reliable rail link, this joint initiative will alleviate the strain on roads, resulting in considerable cost and time savings for miners in the Copperbelt. The railway will facilitate the smooth movement of minerals, liquids, and gas from the Angolan town of Luau, located near the DRC border, to the port of Lobito, providing a faster and more efficient export route.