Africa’s Big New Infrastructure Projects: A Preview

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Economic giants such as China and India are pumping billions of dollars into Africa, transforming the continent’s infrastructure, upgrading its power technology and muscling in on the world’s next high-growth areas.

CNN took a look at some of the big new projects coming down the line in Africa, where lack of railways, ports and quality roads hindered the continent’s economic development in recent years. Here’s a brief look at some of those projects, according to CNN:

Lagos Metro Blue Line, Nigeria

A major cosmopolitan transportion project to connect Nigeria’s largest city, the Lagos Metro Blue Line is designed to ease congestion and speed up travel time for the city’s residents.

The Blue Line will run between Marina and Okokomaiko with 13 stops, and is part of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit program implemented by the government.

Funding issues have pushed the Blue Line launch back to 2015. It’s expected to cost $1.2 billion, funded by the Lagos State Government. Rail operator Eko Rail has a 25-year contract to run and maintain the service.

Jasper project, South Africa

Once completed, the Jasper Power Project will be a 96-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant in South Africa’s Northern Cape – one of the biggest solar installations in Africa.

Google, which has spent more than $1 billion in renewable energy projects in the U.S. and Europe in recent years, made a $12 million investment in the scheme in May.

The project will create 300 construction jobs and 50 permanent operational jobs, according to the South African Department of Energy.

The joint venture is part of South Africa’s ambitious target of generating 18 gigawatts of clean energy by 2030 and reducing its dependency on coal.

Other African countries are also following the solar craze. Earlier this year, Mauritania in West Africa launched what’s described as Africa’s biggest solar plant so far, a 15-megawatt plant that will supply energy to nearly 10,000 homes.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam is set to be as grand on scale as it is in name.

Scheduled for completion by July 2017, the enormous dam will cost the Ethiopian government $4.7 billion and is being assembled by Italian engineering firm Salini Costruttori.

The dam will sit on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region. Creating 12,000 jobs and generating 6,000 megawatts of energy, it will also serve neighboring Sudan and Egypt, which both rely on the Nile River’s water resources.

The project is controversial in Sudan and Egypt, which are both concerned it will give Ethiopia control over the flow of water.

Great Inga Dam, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Potentially the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, the Great Inga is a project to tame the mighty Congo River and provide much-needed renewable energy for up to 500 million Africans.

With work scheduled to begin in October 2015, it’s claimed the Great Inga will produce 40,000 megawatts of energy – twice as much as China’s Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest.

In May, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo announced the first phase of the project, a $12 billion development dubbed Inga 3, expected to produce 4,800 megawatts.

Kigali railway project, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda

Stretching almost 3,000 kilometers and connecting three East African countries, the Mombasa-Kigali railway could be the continent’s answer to the Orient Express.

Starting in Kenya’s second city with a stop-off at the Ugandan capital, Kampala, the rail line will circumvent Lake Victoria before heading for its final destination of Kigali, Rwanda.

With work scheduled to start in November, the project is due to be completed by March 2018 with an estimated cost of $13.5 billion.

Konza City, Kenya

Konza City is a $9.2 billion dollar technology and financial metropolis project located southeast of Nairobi.

Dubbed the African Silicon Savannah, the project is part of Vision 2030, the Kenyan government’s plan to improve the quality of life for its citizens.

The government expects the city to provide 100,000 jobs and include a business district, a university, residential areas and city parks.

But the state will provide only 5 percent of the funding, with the rest expected to come through land leases to private companies.

Ethio-Djibouti railway, Ethiopia, Djibouti

This 650-kilometer railway will link up the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and the Port of Doraleh in the small Red Sea nation of Djibouti.

The project is part of the Ethiopian government’s Growth and Transformation plan and is set to cost $1.2 billion, according to estimates from consultancy KMPG.

Djibouti represents Ethiopia’s only seaport access and would significantly reduce the cost of goods and transportation for the landlocked country, CNN reports.