The agreement between the two countries, the African Development Bank and Africa50 will see the construction of a crossing to link the two closest capitals in the world. Kinshasa and Brazzaville are currently only connected by ferries. Once the bridge is built, the existing traffic of an estimated 750,000 people and 340,000t of freight a year, is expected to increase to over three million people and two million tonnes of freight by 2025.

The landmark project, part of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), involves a 1,575m-long toll bridge over the Congo River. The cost estimate in 2017 was US$550m.

Under the terms of the framework agreement, the two governments have mandated Africa50 and the African Development Bank to develop the project as a public private partnership. The bank will act as the debt provider under the aegis of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC). As the main developer, Africa50 will lead the project development, help select a strategic partner, and provide equity for construction.

“Upgrading the infrastructure of the Republic of Congo is one of our foremost priorities, in particularly transport, which can help us diversify our economy through increased trade and investment,” said Jean-Jacques Bouya, minister of large construction works of the Republic of Congo. “The positive socio-economic impacts from this project will be significant, stimulating trade and economic growth and creating jobs in the Republic of Congo and beyond.”

Modeste Bahati Lukwebo, senior minister of planning for the Democratic Republic of Congo added: “The construction of this bridge will not only link to the cities, but will speed up regional integration beyond our borders. The Democratic Republic of Congo is proud to be a partner in this effort, which aligns with our vision to modernize basic infrastructure. We look forward to working with Africa50, the African Development Bank and the Economic Community of Central African States.”

The president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, said: “The idea to connect the two capitals dates back to the mid-19th century. This project is just the beginning, more will follow.”

Pierre Guislain, vice-president for the private sector, infrastructure and industrialisation of the African Development Bank, added: “This project is an example of what the Africa Investment Forum is about: creating partnerships between African institutions and, the private sector for transformative projects.”

Alain Ebobisse, CEO of Africa50, said: “Straddling two borders, this project presents unique and complex structuring and development challenges, requiring a robust, detailed PPP framework.” He added: “With the guidance of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo; and the support of the African Development Bank and the CEEAC, we are convinced that this transformative project can materialise in a few years.”