The African continent is getting brighter with the everyday sunrise of new innovative smart city projects and advanced transport systems to boost economies by extending arms for the local and international partnerships. In turn, they each make powerful blueprints for Africa’s promising future.
One of the largest infrastructure projects in Africa, is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, simply called “GERD”. Close to Ethiopia’s border with Sudan constructed on the Blue River Nile, the dam is said to produce about 6000 megawatts of electricity yearly. One of the goals of the $5 billion grand project is aimed at building Ethiopia into the biggest hydroelectric exporter in the continent.
But there’s something controversial about GERD since its inception. This is because the Blue Nile which is one of the sources for River Nile provides 85% of the water that travels north via Sudan, Egypt, and then the Mediterranean. Thus, with an existing colonial-era agreement between Sudan and Egypt, both countries rely on it for a consistent water supply. But GERD is coming to intercept this flow. A new agreement between the three countries is still in progress with no conclusion drawn yet.
Since Kenya gained independence in 1963, the Kenya Standard Gauge Railway is now the biggest infrastructure project brilliantly constructed to link the nation’s major cities as well as connecting with nearby countries in the future.
90% of the $3.8 billion projects were funded by China, China Exim Bank, with China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) responsible for the construction. In 2017, the first 300-mile (482 km) area between the coastal city of Mombasa and Nairobi, the capital, was successfully completed. What used to take 12 hours is now 4 considering traveling on the train at an average speed of 74 miles/hr (120 km) between the two cities.
Two years later, Nairobi and Naivasha were successfully linked. Naivasha is a popular city known for tourism. It is close to Hell’s Gate National Park and Mount Longonot National Park. This is phase two of the project which cost about half of the initial funding ($1.5 billion). Proposals for further extension of the rail within the country and to other countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, and South Sudan are still under review.
In Namibia, Walvis Bay, the largest commercial port, handles 5 million tons of cargo yearly. With adequate funding of $300 million, the capacity of the port expanded, and waiting time for ships was regulated. And its 40-hectare container terminal has been fully operational since September last year.
According to Hala el Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development of Egypt, $1.1 billion has been allocated to boost the Suez Canal project this year, 2021. Previously in 2015, the project was funded with $8 billion for expansion to increase trading potential which has ripped a 4.7% rise in revenue. The project has become one of the major sources of income. Currently, proposals for equipment upgrade and development of four tunnels below the canal are under review.
Egypt is also constructing a New Administrative Capital in the eastern region of the country as well as the African-soon-to-be tallest building, the Iconic Tower. The new capital construction cost about $58 billion, and the recent $4 billion, 100 km monorail project is linking Cairo and the new city. According to the Egyptian government, operations will kickstart in the first quarter of this year.
Also receiving partial railway project funding from China Exim Bank as in the case of Kenyan Standard Gauge Railway, the milestone railway projects in Nigeria are gradually connecting commercial hubs in the country including the capital, Abuja. The current Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway from the port of Lagos city to Kano in the northeast will cover 2,700 km near the border with Niger. The China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) is responsible for constructing the rail. The first milestone was Abuja-Kaduna in 2016, then Lagos-Ibadan which became operational last month, December 2020, and now to Kano in 2021.
Also, an ambitious project like Lekki Deep Sea Port in Lagos is on its way to compete with international business centers and set the seaport pace to reposition African cities. It will be the deepest in the Sub-Saharan region, and it’s designed to accommodate about 4 million metric tons of dry goods in a year. China is also supporting the project with a $629 million loan from the Chinese Development Bank while China Harbour Engineering Company is releasing in equity $221 million for the development of the multipurpose port. The project is expected to create employment opportunities providing up to 170,000 new jobs, and to generate revenue of $361 million. The project is ongoing as the breakwater phase commences. The port is said to be operational by 2022.
Alongside boosting the Nigerian economy, the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote, believes his new refinery will solve the long-lasting issue of fuel. It will be the largest refinery in Africa covering 2,635 hectares handling 650,000 barrels a day. The Dangote Petroleum Refinery will be officially opened this year, a crude oil market worth $11 billion yearly as he hopes.
By Elijah Christopher,