|Trans-African Highway network|
The Beira–Lobito Highway is Trans-African Highway 9 in the transcontinental road network being developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Development Bank (ADB), and the African Union. The route has a length of 3,523 km (2,189 mi) crossing Angola, the most southerly part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and central Mozambique.
It is substantially complete in its south-eastern half where it uses paved national roads of Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, but the western half through most of Angola and DR Congo consists of earth tracks or formerly paved roads requiring reconstruction.
The route links mining areas of DR Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe and agricultural production areas of Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe to the Atlantic port of Lobito and Indian Ocean port of Beira. Civil wars in Angola, DR Congo, Zimbabwe and Mozambique have affected development of the highway in the past, most recently in DR Congo and Angola, both still in a rebuilding phase.
The route is also served by a rail link running parallel to it for much of its length except between Kafue and Harare, though it too has been damaged in wars and its western half, the Benguela Railway, does not currently operate.
When complete the highway will be the southernmost of the Trans-African network's east-west crossings of the continent. However regional highways developed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) already offer well-functioning and fully paved alternative routes, particularly the Trans–Caprivi Highway from the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia, and the more southerly link via Botswana and South Africa to the port of Maputo in southern Mozambique.
Furthermore Zambia has a higher priority to complete the Barotse Floodplain causeway (the Mongu–Kalabo road) extending its Great West Road and has proposed to the Angolan government that it continue into that country to link up with its road network. Secondly, DR Congo has been offered a loan and construction assistance by China to develop a railway from Lubumbashi to its port of Matadi as its main trade route. Trans-African Highway 9 might then be relegated to a back-burner by Southern African regional developments.
- African Development Bank/United Nations Economic Commission For Africa: "Review of the Implementation Status of the Trans African Highways and the Missing Links: Volume 2: Description of Corridors". August 14, 2003. Retrieved 14 July 2007.
- Michelin Motoring and Tourist Map: "Africa North and West". Michelin Travel Publications, Paris, 2000.