African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) have signed a Framework Agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Zambia to establish Special Economic Zones (SEZ) for the production of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and related services, according to a press statement.

ARISE Integrate Industrial Platform (ARISE IIP), a pan-African infrastructure developer, has been selected as the technical consultant to conduct the pre-feasibility study for the establishment of the SEZs in DRC and Zambia.

Under the terms, Afreximbank and ECA will play a central facilitating role, acting as the project’s financial and technical partners respectively.

The two institutions will lead the establishment of an operating company in consortium with public and private investors from DRC and Zambia, as well as international investors such as Afreximbank’s impact fund subsidiary, the Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA). The company will develop SEZs dedicated to the production of battery precursors, batteries, and electric vehicle, in both the DRC and Zambia.

Afreximbank said the project will deploy well-established and proven EV technology that will enable both countries to exploit their mineral resources at scale. It will accelerate the manufacture of pre-export value added products, enabling them to capture more value within these states and it will result in new demand for skilled engineers with technical expertise, providing a significant boost to local labour markets.

DRC and Zambia are well-endowed with the resources necessary to produce battery minerals. The DRC accounts for approximately 70 percent of global cobalt supply and 88 percent of cobalt exports, and the two countries collectively contribute 11 percent of all copper supply globally.

Mining contributes 70 percent of Zambia’s foreign exchange, while cobalt accounts for 26 percent of the DRC’s exports.

(Writing by Sowmya Sundar; Editing by Anoop Menon)