Progress on the Kazungula Bridge, showcased during the 2018 Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week, continues to fuel optimism about the future of trade and travel in several African nations.

Construction on the 923-meter-long span over the Zambezi River, which borders Zambia and Botswana, began in 2014 and is expected to be completed by March 2019. It will open the North-South Corridor, which links not only those two landlocked nations but also Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, DR Congo and even Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania with the South African port city of Durban.

Those nations are home to some 279 million people, more than the combined populations of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain.

“It is obvious that once completed, the Kazungula Bridge Project will actually bridge the regional divide,” Mamady Souare, Manager for Regional Integration Operations at the Bank, told participants and reporters during PIDA Week, which ran from Nov. 26-29, 2018. “The project will transform the dynamics of transportation in surrounding communities, counties and cities, boosting road travel and the ease of doing business within the Southern African Development Community, the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.”

Zambia and Botswana reached an agreement in 2007 to build the bridge, which besides two traffic lanes will feature a single-line railway that will link the Mosetse-Kazungula line. The project is expected to cost nearly $260 million, and is being financed by by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the African Development Bank.