Luanda plans rail integration

News

Angola builds north-south railway to connect west-east lines, boosting competition among Atlantic coast ports: Luanda, Lobito, and Namibe.

The government of Angola has announced plans to build a north-south railway to connect the three existing lines, which all run west-east. The lines enable cargo from all parts of the country to be moved to and from the main three Angolan ports, all on the Atlantic coast: Luanda in the north, Lobito in the centre and Namibe in the south.

As a result, Angola is effectively split into three parts for international trade, with little competition between ports for freight, particularly given the limitations of the roads.

However, as elsewhere in Africa, this structure has been unhelpful in supporting trade and cargo movement within Angola and between neighbouring countries. All three railways and ports have been upgraded in recent years.

The government is also keen to see the Benguela line from Lobito extended from eastern Angolan into Zambia, either directly or via the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This would support Zambian copper exports via Lobito but the line would also encourage wider cargo transport. A plan to link the line with the Tanzania-Zambia-Railway (Tazara) has even been mooted that would create a direct link with the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam.

Speaking in early May, Angolan Minister of Transport Ricardo D’Abreu announced a feasibility study into linking the three corridors. It is not known if the project would be state or private sector financed and operated, or a combination.

To date, the government has sought to transfer transport infrastructure to private sector operators where possible, including Lobito Atlantic Railway and Africa Global Logistics on the Lobito corridor.

A tender for the concession to operate the Southern Corridor to the port of Namibe is expected this year.

All three existing railway corridors use the 1067mm Cape gauge.

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