The Libito Corridor was at one time one of the main transportation routes across Africa.
Constructed in 1928, the Benguela Railway through Angola was the main feature of the Lobito Corridor and remained for many years the principal means of access to the sea for a big part of Central and Southern Africa regions, via the Angolan port of Lobito. Primarily, the railway line was constructed to transport copper and cobalt, from the mines in the three countries of Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia.
For some time conflict in the region prevented the Lobito Corridor from operating. There was minimal activity on the Benguela line after the breakout of the Angola civil war in the mid-seventies. Similarly, insecurity contributed to the suspension of the railway line in the DRC in 1997. Due to the suspension, Zambia was forced to seek longer routes (including via ports of Dar-es-Salaam, Beira, and Durban) for exportation of its copper and other produce.
In 2013, the fortunes of the corridor began to change with the Lobito Corridor Development Ministerial Meeting held in Angola. The ministerial meeting, which acknowledged the NWR railroad company as a vital part of the Lobito Corridor development, focused on the development of an integrated plan for the rehabilitation, maintenance and operations of the Lobito Corridor Railway Network interconnecting the following national railway systems; Caminhos de Ferro de Benguela (CFB), DR Congo Railways (SNCC), Zambia Railways Ltd (ZR) and NorthWestern Railways Ltd (NWR). The plan aimed at providing the shortest and most efficient rail transport route to a port for the DRC and Zambian Copperbelt region.
NWR is prioritized in the SADC Regional infrastructure development master plan. As a consequence, Transport Africa awarded NWR as the winner in the category of Best Infrastructure Project on the 1st of July 2014.
In 2015, the presidents of Angola, DRC and Zambia attended a ceremony in Luau, Angola, to officially mark the completion of a US$1.9bn Chinese-backed project to rehabilitate the 1,344 km Benguela Railway between the port of Lobito and the DRC border. Ministers from Angola and Zambia signed bilateral transport agreements, including plans for NWR to connect with the Benguela Railway. Thus, once again making Zambia a transit country between the West and East coasts of Africa.