China Eximbank provides $362 million loan for 1,344 km Benguela Railway Rehabilitation Project
Constant 2017 USD
Funding agency [Type]
Export-Import Bank of China [State-owned Policy Bank]
Transport and storage (Code: 210)
In 2004, China Eximbank and the Government of Angola signed a $362 million loan agreement for the 1,344 km Benguela Railway Rehabilitation Project (See: Chinese Loans to Africa Database). The borrowing terms of this loan are unknown. The project involved the rehabilitation of a 1,344 km railway project that run from Lobito in western Angola to Luau in the Democratic Republic of Congo (See: 'Diversification and Development, or 'White Elephants'? Transport in Angola’s Lobito Corridor,' p. 17).The railway has 67 stations, 35 bridges, and allows for trains to reach peak speeds of 90 km/hour. Upon completion of the project, it was estimated that the railway would be able to accommodate 4 million passengers per year and 20 million tons of cargo per year. Eventually, the Benguela Railway is meant to connect to the Anzan Railway, the Tanzania-Zambia Railway and the surrounding national railway networks to create an interconnection of the southern African railways and form a large international railway passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean (See: '安哥拉本格拉铁路中国企业海外一次性建成最长铁路' and 'THE REPUBLIC OF ANGOLA U.S.$500,000,000 9.375 per cent. Notes due 2048,' p. 40 and 'Backgrounder: China's major railway construction projects in Africa, Latin America').China Railway 20th Bureau Group, a subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corporation, was the contractor responsible implementation. Construction began on 6 January 2006 and ended in August 2014, with the railway initially opening to traffic on 14 February 2015 (See: '中国铁建承建安哥拉本格拉铁路正式移交' and 'Chinese company completes restoration of Benguela railway' and 'Diversification and Development, or 'White Elephants'? Transport in Angola’s Lobito Corridor,' p. 17, 29).On 27 July 2017, the railway line was provisionally delivered to the appropriate Angolan authorities and passed temporary inspection, marking the completion of all of China Railway 20th Bureau Group's tasks. The completed railway was officially handed over to the Angolan authorities on 3 October 2019 (See: '中企承建本格拉铁路正式移交'). The Ministry of Transport of Angola, the Benguela Railway Company, and China Railway Construction 20th Bureau Group Corporation jointly signed the final acceptance certificate for the project.The Benguela Railway is operated by the Benguela Railway Company, a state-owned company that reports to the Angolan Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Economy and Planning (See: 'THE REPUBLIC OF ANGOLA U.S.$500,000,000 9.375 per cent. Notes due 2048,' p. 81 and 'Diversification and Development, or 'White Elephants'? Transport in Angola’s Lobito Corridor,' p. 7).
The Portuguese project title is Caminho de Ferro de Benguela or Caminho-de-Ferro de Benguela. The Chinese project title is 本格拉铁路正.The project may have been partially financed by a China International Fund (CIF) loan facility (see Project #54 and 'Diversification and Development, or 'White Elephants'? Transport in Angola’s Lobito Corridor,' p. 5). CIF initially agreed to finance the construction of both the Luanda and Benguela railways in 2005, but subsequent delays in construction due to disputes between CR20 and Angola administrators may have led to a change in the financing arrangements (See: 'Progress in reconstructing the rail network is slow').The total cost of the project was $1.83 billion, but it is not clear how the Government of Angola funded the portion of the project that was not supported from the proceeds of the China Eximbank loan. (See: 中国海外修最长铁路通车 实现南部非洲铁路互联互通 and 金融时报：进出口银行立足专业优势 续写中非经贸合作“未来篇 and 进出口银行副行长谢平: 聚焦中非发展 助力中非合作 and 金融时报：进出口银行倾力支持 助推非洲路通业兴 and RELATÓRIO DO ESTUDO DO IMPACTO DA PLENA PARTICIPAÇÃO DE ANGOLA NA ZONA DE COMÉRCIO LIVRE DA SADC SOBRE A CAPTAÇÃO DE INVESTIMENTO DIRECTO, p. 32 and 中国铁建修建完成最长海外铁路通车运营 and Chinese company completes restoration of Benguela railway and DBS Group Research on BRI July 2017, p. 4 and Diversification and Development, or “White Elephants”? Transport in Angola’s Lobito Corridor, p. 18 and Progress in reconstructing the rail network is slow).
Number of official sources
Number of unofficial sources
Receiving agencies [Type]
Government of Angola [Government Agency]
Implementing agencies [Type]
Angola Ministry of Transport [Government Agency]; Benguela Railway Company [State-owned Company]; China Railway 20 Bureau Group Co., Ltd. [State-owned Company]; China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) [State-owned Company]