2017 in Review: China-Africa Megaprojects

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One of Africa’s most ambitious projects, Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam is set to turn the East African country into Africa’s water powerhouse. Image courtesy: All Africa
One of Africa’s most ambitious projects, Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam is set to turn the East African country into Africa’s water powerhouse. Image courtesy: All Africa

In 2017, nations in East Africa substantially invested in infrastructure, most notably in transport and renewable energy. With the help of China, the region saw the emergence of two “megaprojects” that were set to develop and enhance trading opportunities and technology.

Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway

The Chinese-built Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), or Madaraka Express, was constructed to transform transport and trade between the country’s capital Nairobi, and coastal port city, Mombasa. Modernising Kenya’s internal trade-route, the new railway has significantly cut cargo transport time and has helped connect the two-cities for passengers travelling for business.

Costing the country around $4 billion, the project was seen as a huge success by both Kenyans and the Chinese.

At the opening of the 2017 Nairobi International Trade Fair, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta confirmed the importance of the Standard Gauge Railway.

“The completion of the first phase of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), is a major milestone. This has proved critical, particularly in the agriculture sector by easing transportation of relief food and maize under the subsidy programme from the port of Mombasa.

“Since its commissioning in June 2017, the SGR has transported 95,950 tonnes and 6,945 tonnes of subsidy maize and relief rice, respectively.”

Building has already began for the “next stage” of the SGR, which will see it connect the entire East Africa region.

Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam

One of Africa’s most ambitious projects, Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam is set to turn the East African country into Africa’s water powerhouse by generating around 6,000 megawatts of electricity for both domestic use and exports.

The construction of the dam commenced in April 2011 with a cost of around 4.7 billion U.S. dollars.

When the test for power generation of the dam starts in 2018, the Ethiopian government predicts that the electricity generated from the dam could be sold as far north to Morocco and as far south to Tanzania.

The government has high expectations for the dam, placing the completion of the project at the centre of Ethiopia’s economic ambitions.

Aside from East Africa, China has heavily invested in both the North and South. With exciting projects emerging in the likes of Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa – 2018 is looking to be year of increasing development and prosperity for both the continent and China.

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