Infrastructure development is a key driver for progress across the African continent and a critical enabler for productivity and sustainable economic growth.
According to the African Development Bank, investment in infrastructure accounts for over half of the recent improvement in economic growth in Africa and has the potential to achieve even more.
A fund known as African Infrastructure Investment Fund 2 (AIIF2) plans to raise $600 million to $1 billion to invest in unlisted equity and equity-like infrastructure investments in Sub-Saharan Africa.
It will take significant stakes in a range of infrastructure projects including toll roads, wind power farms, and other renewable energy projects, ports, water and sewerage utilities, and social infrastructure.
The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) has invested R100 million in the fund, which was established by African Infrastructure Investment Managers Proprietary, a joint venture between Macquarie Africa, part of the Macquarie Group, and the Old Mutual Investment Group, which will advise the fund on investment matters.
In a recent article, the IFC pointed out that it also invests directly in infrastructure projects.
For example, in March 2022 it committed $750,000 to Comasel de St Louis, Senegal, a wholly owned subsidiary of Morocco’s electricity utility, for a project that will use a mix of grid connections and individual solar kits to bring power to 20,000 rural households in 300 villages.
And earlier this fiscal year, the IFC completed an advisory mandate for the government of Benin that led to a 25-year concession agreement with France’s Groupement Bolloré to build and operate the South Wharf Container Terminal at the port of Cotonou in the country.
Impressive infrastructure projects are on the go in a number of other West African countries, including Guinea and Ghana.
Many notable infrastructure projects have been undertaken in recent years in Guinea, says Abdourahim Bodeen Diallo, legal adviser at Thiam & Associés in the capital, Conakry.
Among these is the Amaria hydroelectric dam on the Konkouré River, with a capacity of 300 megawatts. “This dam will contribute to improving the energy network of Guinea and increase the rate of access to electricity to 65%.”
Then there is the 450-megawatt Souapiti Dam, being constructed by China International Water & Electric Corporation (CWE), a subsidiary of the world’s second-largest dam builder, China Three Gorges Corporation.
Financed with a $1.7 billion Eximbank loan, it will eventually nearly double Guinea’s installed power capacity and give it the potential to be an energy exporter in the sub-region, says Dalio.
Another major project on the go in the country is the renovation and extension of the Ahmed Sekou Touré International Airport (AST Airport), which is being financed to the amount of €120 million by the ADP Group and Africa50 International and will increase the airport’s capacity to 1 million passengers per year.
Diallo also noted the construction of an interconnection line between the electricity networks of the Gambia River Basin Development Organisation (OMVG) energy project, who’s member countries are Guinea, Senegal, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, as another major project in the sub-region.
“This interconnection will allow energy exchanges and improve the quality of electricity supply in the OMVG member countries through the supply of clean, renewable energy at a competitive cost.
“The use of hydraulic resources will also considerably reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and consequently greenhouse gas emissions,” he adds.
In Ghana, the Marine Drive Project, is a 240 acre multi-million-dollar urban redevelopment initiative of the Government of Ghana that will feature commercial offices, conference and exhibition centres, hotels, shopping malls, casinos, water parks and a promenade.
The Government of Ghana is also committing to developing a robust standard gauge rail network, says Elizabeth Ashun, partner at Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah (BELA).
A new rail network of approximately 4,000km is to be developed and existing rail lines are being refurbished with the aim to connect Ghana’s rail network to the regional lines.
A North-South line from Ghana to Burkina Faso is also in the pipeline, which will link the port of Tema and the capital city of Ouagadougou.
“This is a key priority project due to its importance in accelerating the socio-economic growth and development of Ghana and Burkina Faso and promoting intra African trade on the continent,” says Ashun.
As part of the Ghana government’s strategy to establish Ghana as a trans-shipment hub in the West African Sub-region, it has also begun a significant infrastructure improvement and development project at the Takoradi Port, she says.
The latter involves the development of an integrated container and multi-purpose terminal, which will increase its annual container capacity from 50 thousand to one million 20-foot-equivalent units of containers.
“This project will also allow the port to receive larger vessels, handle more cargo, enhance storage capacity, lower trade costs, and boost Ghana’s regional trading capability,” says Theodosia Tandoh, associate at the firm.
“On completion of the expansion works, the Takoradi Port will also provide the needed support to the burgeoning oil and gas services industry in the western part of Ghana.”
Another notable project is the Western Corridor Fibre Optic Project, which commenced in 2018 and involves the laying of about 881km of in-land fibre optic cables for an extensive broadband network along the western corridor of Ghana, says Tandoh.
In East Africa, Tanzania has various infrastructure projects on the go, including the construction of a $30 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, following the discovery of natural gas reserves estimated at more than 57 trillion cubic feet in the country, says Dr Theo Romward, advocate at FB Attorneys in Dar es Salaam.
The Tanzania government, through Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), is expected to sign the initial Host Government Agreements with Shell, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Pavilion and Ophir for the construction of the plant, he says.
Another prime Tanzania project is the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which will transport crude oil from Uganda to Tanzania.
This $5 billion project follows discoveries of oil in Uganda, which will be transported via an estimated 1400km long pipeline from Uganda through Tanzania and beyond.
“It is expected to create employment opportunities to Tanzanians, opportunities for business entities and act as a catalyst for national development through taxes collected from the project,” says Romward.
The Tanzanian government also plans to start operating the Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric project in June 2022, which is expected to contribute 2,115 megawatts of electricity to Tanzania’s national power grid.
The project, which is located in the country’s 50,000 square kilometer Selous Game Reserve, has been approved by the National Environmental Management Council (NEMC).
“As a result of the electricity to be generated, the project will contribute to transforming Tanzania into an industry-oriented economy, creating employment opportunities, boosting tourism, controlling floods and transforming lives through marine and land-based economic developments, says Romward.
Other projects planned or on the go in the country include the Standard Gauge Railway Construction Project (SGR)
The railway will link Tanzania to the neighbouring countries of Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo and is expected to cost $7.5 billion.
In addition, the $345 million Dar-es-Salaam Maritime Gateway Project, which will involve the upgrading of the port of Dar-es-Salaam, is being financed by the International Development Association.
The upgrade is expected to expand and deepen the port’s berths by 2030 by which time the volume of trade is set to double.
Then there is the Kikonge Hydropower and Irrigation Project, a multipurpose energy project worth €2 billion provided by the African Development Bank’s African Water Facility (AWF), says Romward.
In another East African country, one of Kenya’s most ambitious ventures, the Lamu Port-South Suda-Ethiopia-Transport project is hoped to boost economic activities and double the country’s GDP.
Its main components include Lamu Port, Lamu-Ethiopia-South Sudan highway, Lamu-Juba-Addis Ababa railway, oil refinery and a 2,240km pipeline linking oil fields in South Sudan to the refinery at Lamu Port.
The project, estimated to represent an investment of $22 billion also includes the construction of three resort cities at Lamu, Isiolo and Lokichoggio, construction of airports in the resort cities, and the development of a 1,100MW power line and a 185km water supply line.
Dozens of other infrastructure projects are also planned or already financed and on the go in Kenya.
These include an oil pipeline and storage facility, port upgrades, a nuclear plant, railway, public transport system, numereous new roads and building constructions, and multiple dam projects.
On the Southeastern coast of Africa, infrastructure projects that will bring significant gains to Mozambique and other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa include the Mphanda Nkuwa Hydropower plant, which will be located downstream from the existing Cahora Bassa Dam.
“Its low electricity generation costs, projected to be among the lowest in the region, combined with relatively minimal environmental and social implications, make the 1,500-megawatt project a top government and attractive investment proposition,” says Pedro Couto, managing partner at Couto Graça & Associados (CGA) in Mozambique.
Today, Mozambique’s transmission grid is interconnected with South Africa, Zimbabwe and Eswatini. The interconnectivity levels within Sub-Saharan Africa will increase substantially with the interconnection project between Mozambique and Malawi, a 218 km long transmission line.
The construction of the Mozambique – Malawi interconnection is expected to be concluded by 2023. It will enable Mozambique to start exporting power and it will stabilise the power security in Malawi.
Another major project in the country is the Nacala Corridor, which covers the central and southern regions of Malawi and five provinces in northern Mozambique.
“The governments of Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia have committed investment, with support from the EU, AfDB, JICA, and Korea EXIM, for the Nacala Corridor Road Project, which will rehabilitate over 1,000 kilometres of road at a cost of approximately US$758 million,” says Couto.
These are just two of the multiple projects already in the implementation phase and will bring considerable gains to Mozambique, he says.
In addition, the Coral Sul FLNG Project is the first floating liquefied natural gas platform, worldwide, to operate in water more than 2000 meters deep.
This represents a US$7 billion investment that can generate direct profits of around US$39.1 billion, over the course of the 25-year project.
“Mozambique is continuously investing in strengthening both its domestic transmission and distribution system as well as the linkages to its neighbouring countries,” says Couto.
Other key projects
In North Africa, the Trans-Maghreb Highway, once completed, will connect 55 major North African towns and cities, 22 international airports, and the region’s chief universities, hospitals, and research centres along one road.
Along with Algerian and Japanese contractors, the Chinese consortium CITIC-CRCC is playing a leading role in paving the 1,200km of the Trans-Maghreb that crisscrosses Algeria.
Already a $11 billion investment, the same Chinese consortium signed an agreement with Algiers to build a $6 billion phosphate plant near the Tunisian border in November 2018.
Then there is Namibia’s new container terminal situated in the coastal town of Walvis Bay and completed in 2020, which has enabled the country to accommodate larger vessels, making it a preferred destination by many countries.
Built by the China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC), the container terminal is bringing to life Namibia’s goal of becoming a main logistics hub for the southern African region, unlocking huge trading opportunities between the rest of the world and Africa.
The container terminal could allow Namibia to become the main gate for landlocked countries.
On the west coast of Southern Africa, for Angola, an oil-rich country that suffers from insufficient electricity generation, the announcement of the construction on the massive Caculo Cabaca hydropower plant in 2017 came as a major boon to the country.
Being built by China’s Gezhouba Group (CGGC), the $4.5 billion Caculo Cabaca project is expected to produce 2,172 MW of energy on completion in 2024 and meet more than 50% of the country’s electricity needs.
To be constructed in the middle of the Cuanza River, the country’s longest waterway, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean at the capital Luanda, Caculo Cabaca is expected to create 10,000 local jobs at the peak of its construction.
The AU’s PIDA programme
According to the African Union (AU), Africa speaking with one voice to enhance its cross-border trade, share resources and build mutually beneficial infrastructure is all possible through the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).
The programme was developed by the African Union Commission (AUC), NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency), African Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs).
PIDA aims to accelerate the delivery of current and future regional and continental infrastructure projects in transport, energy, information communications and technology (ICT), and trans-boundary water.
Bridging the gap in infrastructure is vital for economic advancement and sustainable development, but this can only be achieved through regional and continental cooperation, it says.