* Road to facilitate trade to Great Lakes region
* Upgrade expected to start in July
LUSAKA, May 16 (Reuters) - A state-owned Chinese bank will lend Zambia $180 million to upgrade a road that should help boost trade with Africa’s Great Lakes countries, an official said on Monday.
The region, loosely defined as Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and western Tanzania, is a key market for Zambian sugar and cement exports.
Watson Ng’ambi, head of infrastructure development at the Works and Supply ministry, said China’s Export and Import Bank was ready to disburse the funds at once.
“This is a very important road in the Great Lakes region, facilitating trade between Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo,” Ng’ambi said.
The plan is to upgrade 170 km (105 miles) of road leading to Zambia’s Mpulungu harbour at the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika. Work is scheduled to begin in July. (Reporting By Chris Mfula, Editing by Ed Cropley)