Johannesburg, November 13, 2019 – The Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo signed on Monday, during the Africa Investment Forum, an Intergovernmental Agreement to expedite construction of the bridge linking their capitals.
The agreement which was signed in the presence of their principal partners, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the African Development Bank and Africa50, sets out the principles of cooperation for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the bridge. Once ratified, it will serve as the framework for the issuance of tenders and finding technical strategic sponsors and financing.
Africa50 is mandated by the governments to develop the project alongside the African Development Bank, which will act as the debt provider, and the Economic Community of Central African Sates (ECCAS). As the lead developer, Africa50 will structure the Public Private Partnership framework, lead the project preparation and development phase, and provide equity for construction.
The project, part of the PIDA Priority Action Plan, consists of a 1.575-kilometer toll bridge over the Congo River. It will include a single railway track, two road lanes, sidewalks, and border checkpoints and be connected to existing road infrastructure in both countries. Its cost was estimated in 2017 to be $459 million. By establishing a direct connection between the two cities the current traffic by boat of an estimated 750,000 people a year and 340,000 tons of freight could grow to over 4 million people and 3 million tons of freight by 2025. Moreover, the project is expected to have a positive impact beyond the two cities, it will create an essential link to help develop transport corridors across the continent – North to South and East to West.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Élysée Munembwe Tamukumwe, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Planning, Democratic Republic of Congo reiterated the important economic opportunities that would derive from the project: “This bridge is a crucial transport link for the development of the trans-African network which comprises of several corridors spanning from Tripoli to Windhoek and Cape town. We are pleased to be cooperating with the Republic of Congo, our brotherly country, and all the other partners on this landmark project, which enables to materialize the will of ECCAS Heads of states to reinforce regional integration.”
“This bridge is Central Africa’s contribution, and more specifically that of the two Congos’, to operationalize the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. We are very enthusiastic to sign this agreement, which sets out, in substance, the legal framework to bring the rail-road to fruition and we acknowledge the professionalism of our strategic partners in their efforts to structure the deal into a consensual management model”, said Jean-Jacques Bouya, Minister of Land Use Planning and Large Construction Works, Republic of Congo.
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, stated "the bridge establishes a direct link between Kinshasa and Brazzaville, the two closest capital cities in the world. Such transport projects have acquired a new significance with the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. The proposed 90% reduction in freight tariffs will have no effect if the goods cannot cross the borders quickly."
Alain Ebobissé, CEO of Africa50 added, “Regional projects present particular challenges, and we are grateful that the leaders of these two great countries have agreed on this framework. At Africa50 we are ready to leverage our equity finance, and technical, operational and project management expertise to accelerate implementation, working closely with our shareholder governments, the African Development Bank, ECCAS, and other partners.”
At the first edition of the Africa Investment Forum, on 7 November 2018, the African Development Bank and Africa50 signed a preliminary framework agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo setting forth the terms and conditions under which the African Development Banks and Africa50 could develop and finance the project. This was then followed by joint audiences with H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo and H.E. Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo on 11 April in Dakar, Senegal and on 12 September in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, where they reaffirmed their full support for the project.
Banque africaine de développement: Joseph Kouassi N'GUESSAN, Chef de Division des Infrastructures et finance pour l’Afrique Centrale, Banque africaine de développement
Africa50: Fleur Tchibota, Head of Communications, Africa50, +212 666 171 099