Last month, President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia and President Antoine Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) broke ground on a multimillion-dollar project. This project presents an essential opportunity for regional growth and diversification.
For many years, numerous African governments have promoted the advantages of regional integration for the economies of several developing nations worldwide.
Several projects aiming for regional integration and access to international markets have been successfully implemented.
One noteworthy project that has captured the region’s attention is the recently launched Kasomeno (in DRC) – Mwenda (in Zambia) Toll Road.
The Kasomeno-Mwenda project, valued at US$850 million, is being developed as a public-private partnership. The project involves constructing and expanding a 184 km road highway, a 345-meter long cable-stayed bridge over the border at the Luapala River, and a one-stop border post. It also includes warehousing and parking facilities, a tolling system, associated infrastructure, and social infrastructure for community development.
The investment and project management company for the road project is GED Africa, headquartered in Mauritius. Its principal financial sponsor is Hungarian infrastructure developer Duna Aszfalt. This project represents Duna Aszfalt’s most significant infrastructure investment from Europe into Africa.
Some media outlets have described the project as ‘massive’ due to its importance extending beyond regional integration.
Zambia’s President Hichilema stated that the project would “strengthen connectivity, improve accessibility, reduce transport costs, and contribute to poverty alleviation by generating jobs and fostering wealth creation.”
Additionally, Zambia’s land-linked access to regional and international markets offers an opportunity for diversification, according to their head of state.
By combining shorter distances with DRC’s first one-stop border post, this new route to the east will unlock regional potential and create economic prosperity for all stakeholders.
Intended to reduce congestion at the busy Kasumbalesa border post, the Kasomeno-Mwenda toll road will also cut the roundtrip for commercial transporters from Haut-Katanga’s thriving mining sector to the Port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, by about 500 km.
Both countries’ governments have pledged to coordinate and work jointly to deliver this strategic infrastructure project as quickly as possible while maintaining international quality standards.
Experts have described this project as a model of a multinational public-private partnership (PPP) that positions the DRC and Zambia for sustainable economic growth through world-class engineering expertise, tolling technology, and modern infrastructure.
Klaus Findt, CEO of GED Africa, said during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Luapula bridge last month, “GED Africa and Duna Aszfalt are proud to announce the finalization of the border post agreement as this is a critical next step.”
The project will be constructed by GED Africa, with assistance from Agence Congolaise des Grands Travaux and the Zambia Road Development Agency.
GED Africa is the investment and project management company for the KMTR project, which combines two 25-year PPP concessions between GED Africa’s subsidiaries and the governments of the DRC and Zambia under separate concession agreements.
GED Africa has promised to allocate an additional multimillion-dollar sustainable impact fund over the concession period for various healthcare, education, and social infrastructure initiatives in the communities hosting the projects.
Findt also mentioned that GED Africa and Duna Aszfalt are strategically using the upcoming rainy season to fine-tune the engineering designs with their partners, ensuring major works can commence as planned.