Ten world-class African infrastructure projects

A new KPMG report highlights 100 world-class infrastructure projects that balance solving problems of society today while preparing for demands of the future. David Mwanambuyu looks at ten African projects, in various stages of conceptualisation and development, included in the report.

1. Jinja bridge – Uganda

In a bid to stem congestion over the Nile, Jinja bridge is being constructed as a second crossing. This added capacity will facilitate more traffic through this major economic corridor. The river is a stumbling block to trade in this landlocked East African country, which lies along the banks of Lake Victoria.

The only crossing in use presently links Kampala, Uganda’s capital, with regions east of the Nile along the Kenyan border. The Jinja bridge, a 525 metre-long cable-supported crossing, is projected to cost US$125m, most of it coming from the Japanese government.

It’s a high-tech facility that will feature a digital monitoring system to track stresses and strains to the bridge, alerting authorities to maintenance needs.

2. Jomo Kenyatta airport terminal – Kenya

Visitors flying into Kenya often point out the dilapidated facilities as a source of irritation, and a factor stunting the country’s growth potential. By their nature, airports are the first contact between business travellers and the destination they wish to invest in.

It’s common knowledge that poor infrastructure impacts export costs and could make Kenya’s goods uncompetitive globally. The planned upgrade to Jomo Kenyatta Airport Terminal is part of the answer to this challenge. Part of a wider series of infrastructure investments and redevelopment designed to address these obstacles, it will cost an estimated $654m, with capacity to handle 20m passengers annually.

3. Bouregreg Valley development project – Morocco

This is a well-designed, large urban regeneration and development project comprising a port, marina, residential, commercial, cultural and leisure precincts. The development is situated on the banks of the Bouregreg River between the cities of Rabat and Salé.

The project is intended to meet growth constraints, while adhering to environmental requirements of local landmarks such as a 12th-century fortress, which is in close proximity to the new complex. The estimated project cost is $1bn, to be sourced from five sovereign wealth funds and international financial institutions.

4. Trans-Saharan natural gas project – Algeria, Niger, Nigeria

Encompassing three countries, this facility is earmarked to become the world’s most expensive energy export pipeline. Providing a conduit between resource-rich sites in Africa and lucrative markets in Europe, the project will assist Europe in diversifying supply by transporting natural gas from Nigeria via Niger to Algeria, then onto Spain and the rest of Europe.

5. North-South Africa corridor – Southern Africa

Estimated to cost $1bn, the North-South Africa corridor is designed to connect eight Southern African countries with more than 10,000 km of road networks.

Jutting from South Africa to Zambia and the DRC, and from Botswana to Malawi, the route has potential to bolster cross-border trade and tourism in region. It is likely to be bankrolled by development partners, in addition to respective governments and the World Bank.

6. Mombasa-Kigali railway – East Africa

Challenges faced by landlocked African countries in their export drive are compounded by poor infrastructure which constrains their quest to reach overseas markets.

The Mombasa-Kigali railway, a 2,935 km stretch, will link the port of Mombasa in Kenya with Tanzania and landlocked Rwanda and South Sudan. It will facilitate exports of coffee, tea, other agricultural goods, minerals and machinery.

7. Kudu gas field and combined cycle gas turbine – Namibia

Scheduled to open in 2018, Namibia’s first large-scale power plant seeks to harness local resources through development of offshore Kudu field’s 1.3tr cubic feet of gas. With a capacity of 800 MW, this power plant will add more domestic generation capacity to cut back on imports and address energy deficiency in the economy.

Gas is expected to be transported through a 170 km pipeline, and will establish Namibia as a net exporter of energy and minimise reliance on neighbouring South Africa. China’s Shanghai Electric was the winning bidder to finance 49% of this $1.1bn project.

8. Nigeria high speed rail – Nigeria

Financed by China’s Export Import Bank, and to be built by China Railway Construction Corporation, this 3,218 km network will link Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Warri, Bauchi, Abuja and Port Harcourt. The network is set to boost economic activity in those regions. When operational, the high speed rail is expected to ease pressure on Nigeria’s collapsing road network.

9. Square Kilometre Array – South Africa

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is an international collaboration aimed at building the world’s largest radio telescope, with 1m square metres of collecting area.

Coming at a cost of $900m, SKA is one of the largest scientific initiatives to date, bringing together some of the world’s most refined scientific and engineering brains, not to mention policy makers.

10. Prasa rolling stock programme – South Africa

South Africa’s passenger rail service moves more than 2.6m commuters daily. This is undertaken with immense difficulty characterised by old technology and creaking rolling stock. The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has therefore issued a manufacturing contract valued at $4.6bn, signed in October 2013, to build 600 new trains (3,600 vehicles) over a period of 10 years.