Zambia finds itself at the centre of a geopolitical tug-of-war as two superpowers, the US and China, vie for influence in its mining sector. The recent spotlight falls on the US-backed Lobito corridor project, dubbed a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity by President Hichilema, and its potential to transform Zambia’s mining landscape.
This project, aiming to connect Zambia’s copper and cobalt mines to Angola’s Lobito port, aligns with Washington’s efforts to secure access to crucial minerals for the energy transition, particularly from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Additionally, it serves as a counterpoint to China’s growing influence in the region.
For Zambia, the Lobito corridor promises economic benefits and increased connectivity to international markets. President Hichilema’s enthusiastic endorsement reflects the potential for growth and development in the country’s mining sector.
However, China is not sitting idly by. With a $1 billion investment to refurbish a key railway linking the mining area to Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam port, China reaffirms its commitment to infrastructure development in the region.
This contrasting approach from the US and China highlights the complex geopolitical dynamics at play. Both powers see Africa’s resource-rich mining sector as strategically important, leading to a competition for influence and access.
As Zambia navigates these competing interests, the Lobito corridor project emerges as a pivotal decision. It could reshape the nation’s mining industry, strengthen its position in the global market for critical minerals, and potentially alter the regional geopolitical balance.