The Kazungula Bridge which was officially opened Monday, 10th May 2021. The Kazungula Bridge Project was an initiative of the 4 Countries whose Borders meet at Kazungula, the Quadruple points and these being Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. But after a protracted negotiations Namibia and Zimbabwe opted not to be part of the project and in 2007, the Governments of Zambia and Botswana signed an agreement to build the bridge to replace the existing pontoon.
The Bridge is deliberately curved to avoid the borders of Namibia and Zimbabwe which are close by.
Construction of the bridge officially began in 2014. The cost of the $260m project was to be financed by the following;
1. Zambia and Botswana were to finance 9.2% of the project or $23,920,000
2. Japan International Cooperation Agency were to finance 57.5% of the project or $149,500,000
3. African Development Fund were to finance 31.5% of the project or $81,900,000
And the EU-ITF was to finance 1.8% of the project or $4,680,000.
However, just before construction started in 2014, the Major Financer JICA pulled out of the project after a dispute on the tender for the construction of the bridge. The Government of Zambia, together with the Government of Botswana stepped up and pledged to bridge the gap by contributing $86,710,000.00 each.
The Zambian Government has released a total of US$82,400,000.00 towards the completion of the Kazungula bridge project. As at December 2020, only a minimal balance on the contract in the sum of US $4.7m remained to be certified and issued to the Zambian Government.
This is a remarkable achievement by the Government considering that the deficit that was created by the pull out of JICA was never budgeted for and was done at the very last minute of the launch of the program.
The bridge is a marvel but most importantly it will improve the efficiency of transit traffic through the Kazungula border to facilitate and increase trade activities and global competiveness of Zambia and Botswana; improve regional connectivity of the North South Corridor; and contribute to economic regional integration within the SADC region.
The bold decision by the Governments of Botswana and Zambia should be commended as this is going to enhance intra-Africa trade which is the Hallmark of the formation of the Africa Free Continental Trade Area agreement which came into effect in January, 2021. The Afcfta agreement should encourage more African countries to come up with such initiatives that would increase trade and global competitiveness of the African continent as a whole.
Congratulations to the Governments of Zambia and Botswana on this milestone.