Zambia-DR Congo Border Bottleneck Bogs Down Trucks

The Kasumbalesa Border Post between DR Congo and Zambia is infamous for the long lines and extreme delays. On a bad day, the line of vehicles may well stretch out up to a 60-km long. On a good day, there might be upwards of 2,000 trucks in waiting.

So acute is the issue that it was taken up at the 36th Ordinary Session of the #AU Assembly at the beginning of 2023 when the situation was qualified as a ‘logistical crisis!’ Zambian President Hachilema even paid a visit to Kasumbalesa to see with his own eyes the severity of the situation. At the #AU meeting, he sat down with Congolese President Tshisekedi to try to sort out the logjam.

DR Congo is the largest African copper producer with an output of 1.8 million tonnes in 2021. This quantity accounts for 8.5% of the total global output and DRC earned nearly USD 9 billion from copper exports in that year, placing it as the 2nd largest exporter of the metal in the world.

China is the largest client and buys more than half of the country’s production. China is also present in the mining sector of DRC with CMOC, but other countries are also present such as US Glencore, Canadian Ivanhoe Mines, Kazakh Eurasian Resources Group, to name some of the top players.

Roadside Billboard Announcing the Kasumbalesa Dry Port Project in DR Congo

The highway along the N-S Corridor is critical for the copper trade. The delay at Kasumbalesa can add up to 60 days of transit time before the copper reaches its destination markets in Asia, Europe or North America. For instance, Ivanhoe takes its copper all the way to the port of Durban in South Africa and this delay is simply ‘unacceptable.’

Several proposals have been put forward to resolve the issue. Due to the high volume of traffic, Kasumbalsa lends itself to being developed into a Dry Port. As in the case of Kazungula Bride, the One-Stop Border Post (#OSBP) and #Digitalization could go some way in ease the processing of paperwork for border crossing.

Proposed OSBP as Part of Kasumbalesa-Mokambo Corridor Project

Furthermore, the 80-km long Kasumbalesa-Mokambo Corridor is already in the pipeline at an estimated value of EUR 117 million. It would provide an alternative border crossing at Mokambo and fluidify the traffic at Kasumbalesa.

In addition to improving road #connectivity, stakeholders have advocated the use of an upgraded rail infrastructure which promises to be more cost-efficient and would take pressure off the overburdened highway.