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Published: 13 August 2009      

New link for Congo

The governments of Congo Brazzaville and Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) have signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the construction of a rail and road bridge across the River Congo

 The bridge will connect the two capital cities of Brazzaville and Kinshasa, while also providing direct transport links between DR Congo and western ports. A US$7.7M feasibility study has been launched and it is hoped that the bridge can be completed within five years, but both Congos have severe political and economic problems, so there is no guarantee that this deadline will be met.

The project design and construction costs have not yet been determined, but the African Development Bank (AfDB) has agreed in principle to provide 95% of the required funding, with 5% to come from the two governments.

Congo Brazzaville benefits from substantial oil revenues and so may be able to part-fund the project if AfDB support falls through. While the bridge should provide a symbol of regional regeneration, its most tangible benefit could be in boosting trade between Kinshasa and Pointe Noire in Congo Brazzaville.

At the end of May, a consortium including Bolloré Africa Logistics and APM Terminals announced that it was to develop a new container terminal at Pointe Noire. Named Congo Terminal, the new facility will be designed to serve the wider Congo Basin, including the biggest city in the region, Kinshasa.

The new rail bridge and rail link across the River Congo may be intended to boost turnover at Congo Terminal. Another new stretch of rail will be constructed between Kinshasa and Ilebo in Western Kasai Province, allowing uninterrupted rail transport between Pointe Noire and Lubumbashi in the far southeast of DR Congo.

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