Chinese firms promoting real estate, infrastructure development in Africa

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The Chinese-built Mombasa Standard Gauge Railway terminal in Mombasa, Kenya. /Xinhua Photo
The Chinese-built Mombasa Standard Gauge Railway terminal in Mombasa, Kenya. /Xinhua Photo

The Chinese construction companies and financial institutions have been at the forefront of infrastructure modernization and growth of the real estate sector in Africa, an executive has said.

Greg Pearson, CEO of Gateway Real Estate Africa, said the continent has leveraged capital, technology and expertise from Chinese firms to develop new infrastructure projects like roads, ports as well as modern housing.

“I think the Chinese construction companies have a great role to play within East Africa if you look at what they are producing and the infrastructure they are rolling out in the countries,” Pearson said during a recent virtual interview held in Nairobi.

He said that Chinese companies rolling out infrastructure projects in Africa have placed emphasis on partnership with their local counterparts to maximize benefits through technology and skills transfer.

According to Pearson, strategic partnership between Chinese construction firms and local contractors has stimulated mutual learning and speedy implementation of infrastructure projects.

He noted that blossoming trade relations between China and Africa has also necessitated infrastructure modernization in the continent to facilitate seamless movement of cargo and manpower.

Pearson said infrastructure projects implemented by Chinese construction firms in Africa have met the quality threshold while ensuring the continent becomes a transport and logistics hub.

He attributed the relationship between Gateway Real Estate Africa and the Bank of China for continuous rollout of infrastructure projects in the continent that has defied jitters occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are also doing a lot of financing of these projects with the Bank of China and their rates have been very competitive in the markets,” said Pearson. “So the relationship that we have with the Bank of China has been fantastic. We do use other financial institutes, but at the moment, the Bank of China has been a huge support for us and our business moving forward.”

The expert said that China’s instrumental role in Africa’s infrastructure modernization and growth of the continent’s real estate sector has boosted investor confidence.

Pearson said robust China-Africa economic and trade ties have improved the perception that international investors hold on the continent. And the continent is slated for more foreign direct investments in the coming years amid an optimistic outlook strengthened by China funded transport and logistics hubs.

The pandemic shocks have not dampened the optimism among international investors who are keen to inject capital into Africa’s infrastructure and real estate sectors.

While admitting that the real estate sector in the continent experienced a slump at the peak of the pandemic, Pearson said the ongoing vaccination drive coupled with enhanced containment measures could pave the way for its turnaround in 2022.

Pearson said that unlocking capital from local banks, insurance companies and pension funds could fuel recovery of Africa’s real estate market after contraction linked to the pandemic.

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