Being located in the center of the South African region Zambia is heavily dependent on its transport network connoting it to various export and import destinations.
Zambian transport includes railways, roads and bridges, aerodromes, airports, inland waterways and maritime.
There are eight airports with paved runways, railways covering 2,922km, roadways covering 67,671km and waterways covering 2,250km.
The main rail networks include Zambia and TAZARA which were primarily constructed to serve mining industry.
Zambian Air Transport
Zambia has four international airports, five airstrips and five secondary airfields that serve the domestic and international flights.
The main airport is Lusaka Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. Other smaller airports include Livingstone and Mfuew, Ndola along with secondary airfields including Kasama, Kitwe, Chipata, Mongi, Mansa and Solwezi.
Zambia recently adopted open sky policy along with current establishment of an air cargo hub to connect with the Southern African region.
The Zambian government is focused towards improving infrastructure at all airports. Some of the developments that are in progress include establishment of terminals, runways and auxiliary facilities around the airports such as shopping malls, hotels and much more.
There is much more scope for participation of private section in development of airports in the airfield at Kitwe, Chipata, Kasama, Mongu, Mansa and Solwezi.
Zambia Road Network
The major part of the main road network was constructed by the authorities between 1965 and 1975.
In the approximately 37,000 km road structure, 6,476 km are surfaced to class 1 standard and are bituminous. The earth and gravel roads account for almost 8,478 km and 21,967 km respectively.
Some of the toll routes that form the backbone of Zambian national road network include Kipri Mposhi to Nakonde, Solwezi to Kazungula and Lusaka to Mchinji via Chipata.
There are 30,000 km of ungazetted community road that comprises of trails, tracks and footpaths.
Zambia is the second largest producer of copper in Africa and the industry relies heavily on the roads for shipping exports and mine inputs overseas through eight neighboring countries.
The road network of Zambia is also used heavily by neighboring countries to provide shorter and reliable path to different ports of Africa.
As the economy of Zambia has accelerated, roads development projects have been launched.
One such project is Link Zambia 8,000, also known as Accelerated National Roads Construction Programme, aimed at improving the current situation of roads in Zambia by rehabilitating and constructing the road network.
The development of international highways and efficient road network will link Zambia to Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi, Congo and Namibia. This project is specifically targeting cost reduction of user and transit times across the country.
In order to manage bulk of commercial traffic, the Zambian government is encouraging private sector to invest in toll roads construction based on sustainable revenue model.
Zambia Railway Network
In Zambia, railways are the leading transportation mode for goods on the international and local routes.
Total length of Zambian railway network is more than 2922 kilometers. 900 kilometers out of these are main lines while the rest of the network is branch line railway.
Zambia Railways is the main railway line owned by government whereas the TAZARA line is jointly owned by Tanzanian and Zambian governments. This railway line connects Tanzania with Zambia.
Recently, the Chipata-Mchinji railway link was opened that provides connectivity into Malawi railway.
This further connects Zambia to railway network of Mozambique and opens up various exciting and new opportunities for private sector in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.
Although Zambian railway has been operating well below the actually designed capacity there hasn’t been much significant increase in their volumes due to lack of locomotive, poor track conditions and wagon ability along with low operating capital.
In order to develop surface transport sector, Zambian government is currently focused on developing railway network.
Further enhancement of rail routes will help Zambia not only in establishing smooth access to different countries but also overall trade boost in the sub-region, eventually making Zambia a competitive business country.
Opportunities To Invest in The Zambian Transport Sector
The private sector is being encouraged to participate in the rehabilitation and development of railway infrastructure in Zambia.
Some of the major opportunities of railway development in Zambia include:
• Jimbe to Chingola (Sharing border with Angolan). This is the railway line that links the existing Chingola line through Solwezi to the Jibme’s boarder town. It will enhance the transportation of passenger and freight traffic.
• Kafue (Zambia): This is the railway line that will link Ziwa Zimbabe to Zambia Railway. Ziwa is the shortest route to the Baira port in Mozambique.
• Extension of Chipata/Mchinji railway line to TAZARA: This railway line network will link the Chipata-Mchinji line to port of Nacala in Mozambique through Petauke District.
• TAZARA Nseluka: These railway lines link TAZARA line to Mpulungu Port at Nseluka. Their primary function would be to facilitate exports and imports from the region of Great Lakes to the ports on the Indian Ocean.
• Railway link with Namibia and Zambia: this railway line network construction include rehabilitation of Mulobezi line partially along with feasibility study regarding spur construction between Katima Mulilo and Livingstone via Kazungula, connecting to Nambian Railway system as part of the Livingstone-Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lusaka-Lubumbashi corridor.