Angola's growing role as a logistics hub

The logistics sector is not only paramount for a country’s development but is especially important in resource-rich countries such as Angola.

in figures

Length of Lobito Corridor railway line: 1,344 kilometres

Expected completion of Barra do Dande Free Zone: 20272027

Angola’s growing role as a logistics hub

March 11, 2024

Infrastructure developments play a key role in Angola’s ongoing economic revamp. The modernisation of the transport and logistics network has been included among the government’s top priorities within its 2023-2027 National Development Plan. The plans will diversify the economy and capitalise on Angola’s geographical location.

The logistics sector is not only paramount for a country’s development but is especially important in resource-rich countries such as Angola, as it enables industry productivity in areas such as downstream refined products and locally manufactured goods. In short, a strong logistics sector allows a country to unlock the full potential across its supply chain.
Beyond this, Angola is seeking to become a gateway to the whole southern African region by taking advantage of its geography. The country has 1,650 kilometres of coastline running along the west coast of southern Africa and is located relatively near the largest economy in South America, Brazil, with which it shares a common language and business ties.
The government is consequently carrying out multiple initiatives to step up its logistics capabilities to boost Luanda’s socioeconomic performance and also improve the conditions of neighbouring landlocked territories – such as Zambia and the southern territories of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – and Namibia, which has recently entered the oil and gas industry.
Increased logistics capabilities will contribute to making the region more attractive to foreign investment and make it more competitive within the global energy supply chain and beyond.


AIR, LAND AND SEA: Angola’s short- to mid-term logistics strategy includes increasing its passenger and cargo airline capabilities, developing its inland railroad infrastructure and further developing its five seaports.
Two major, related projects in air transportation are the operational expansion of the state-owned airline company TAAG and the new Angola International Airport near Luanda. The new airport is the largest African airport built in the 21st century and was inaugurated by João Lourenço on November 10, 2023. The airport will greatly improve the country’s attractiveness and potential for both commercial and touristic purposes.
The airport will further serve as the hub for TAAG. With it, the national carrier will be able to expand operations and operate more efficiently.
As part of TAAG’s expansion, the company has made agreements with Brazilian company GOL. It has also signed agreements with four leasing companies for the delivery of small and medium sized cargo across the African, South American and European continents and for the provision of nine Airbus A220–300 single-aisle airliners. Finally, the airline has signed open sky agreements with the US, which will allow the company to operate there following Federal Aviation Administration certification.
TAAG’s intention to expand its fleet and services while increasing its presence in its existing markets goes hand in hand with the leading role the flagship company has as a commodity carrier on the African continent. The company now covers key destinations such as Mozambique, São Tomé, Namibia, Nigeria and Kenya.
The major project on land is the Lobito Corridor. The corridor consists of a 1,344-kilometre railway that will connect the DRC and Zambia with the Port of Lobito in Angola.
The Lobito Corridor project is an example of Angolan efforts to build a solid and reliable infrastructure network that will enhance intra- and inter-African exports and turn the Benguela province into one of the centres of trade and development in southern Africa. During the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment event at the G20 New Delhi summit in September 2023, both Washington and Brussels reinforced their support for the project by launching a pre-feasibility study for a greenfield rail line between Zambia and Angola.
The project intends to significantly improve the region’s capacity to transport goods, especially food, and minerals, including copper, cobalt, manganese, zinc and lithium, which are increasingly relevant within the green energy transition and for reducing carbon footprints. It will also boost export opportunities and the mobility of people while lowering the costs of transportation.
In addition to reducing the need for long road journeys to the African west coast, the new corridor is also a greener alternative to trucks, with lower CO2 emissions and less congested border operations.
With respect to the sea, Angola already has five seaports (Luanda, Cabinda, Lobito, Soyo and Namibe) which spearhead the country’s global trade and fundamentally support its oil industry. The country’s offshore fields are easily accessible from major shipping lanes, presenting opportunities to both international and domestic players to expand export receipts. Furthermore, this allows local companies such as marine and logistics service providers to manage larger-scale operations by servicing a wider array of countries.
Angolan marine support companies Cabship and Octomar signed an MoU in June 2023 to establish a diving and marine support JV in the Cabinda Special Economic Zone. The JV is poised to make strategic use of the upcoming Caio maritime terminal. The terminal will operate as an arm of the Caio deepwater port, which will have a throughput of around 60 containers per hour. This initiative is one of several supplementing Angola’s port infrastructure.
State-owned logistics and transportation company Unicargas and the UAE’s AD Ports Group recently signed a partnership agreement to establish a JV which will manage and operate the multipurpose terminal at the Port of Luanda and the logistics business of Unicargas.
Then, the port of Lobito is developing a single maritime window system, a digitalisation process which will centralise procedures and streamline the flow of information required by government agencies to optimise shipping operations.
Finally, there is the ambitious Barra do Dande Free Zone project in Bengo province. The first phase is expected to be completed by 2027. This project fits into the government’s strategy to establish multiple deepwater ports that can handle large oil tankers and will address four main needs (food, energy and fuel security and industrial development). It involves a total infrastructure investment of USD 1.5 billion, coming mostly from the private sector, and will create 21,000 jobs.

POTENTIAL AND CHALLENGES: Despite Angola’s potential to become a global and regional logistic hub and the ongoing infrastructure development efforts put forward by the government, there are important challenges that need to be addressed. Angola continues to rank near the bottom of the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index.
Despite advances, Angola’s transport infrastructure network still suffers from damage from the 27-year civil war and experiences periodic flooding during the rainy season. Underdevelopment in infrastructure is a major obstacle for investment in service industries and therefore hinders economic diversification.
Another main barrier is the lack of time-efficient procedures for importing and exporting goods. Significant red tape and bureaucratic bottlenecks are holding back the domestic logistics sector from further expansion and are restricting productivity.
To ameliorate bureaucratic inefficiency, the government has updated Customs legislation and administration and provided clearer trade laws and regulations. Notably, the country adopted a modern Customs system utilising UNCTAD’s Automated System for Customs Data, an integrated Customs management platform for international trade and transport operations.
Nevertheless, more consistent actions are required to tackle domestic operational inefficiencies. Efficiency can be improved through track-and-trace capabilities for goods in transit. Track-and-trace would similarly decrease delays at ports for screening, loading and off-loading activities.
A more conducive regulatory environment, market-oriented policies and up-to-date systems will positively impact trade procedures and play a major role in improving Angola’s international image as a reliable hub, which will further encourage foreign investment.

THE WAY AHEAD: Following the country’s ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement on November 4th 2020, Angola has an additional tool in its arsenal to push economic expansion and promote future development plans.
A multilateral project that will also add to the country’s logistics capacity is the Central African Pipeline System, which is founded on an agreement signed in September 2022 by a coalition of Central African nations, including Angola, Cameroon, Chad, the Republic of Congo, the DRC, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. This project consists of a 6,500-kilometre regional oil and gas pipeline. The pipeline is slated to be operational by 2030.
Domestically, the Angolan government intends to invest almost half a billion dollars for the construction of 21 logistics centres by 2038 to facilitate the movement of goods via interconnected platforms across the country and to ease road transportation challenges.
Angola is therefore working to address structural issues and to modernise the country’s infrastructure, expand the economy and better connect its cities domestically, regionally and globally. Angola’s consistent hydrocarbons production and the significant growth opportunities offered by its mining sector, together with its investors, can make the country a top-notch logistics player across West and Southern Africa in the near future.

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