PIDA Conference: Six Economic Corridors in SADC

African Infrastructure Discussed at Pan-African Conference in Namibia–Six Corridors Highlighted

Dec. 26—The 2017 Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week took place in Swakopmund, Namibia on Dec. 10-14. Countries throughout Africa and especially member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) showcased major development projects to promote regional integration.

According to an article by the SADC news agency, the six infrastructure corridor projects showcased during the event included:

1) The Batoka Gorge Hydropower Plant

2) The Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya (ZTK) Power Interconnector

3) The Kinshasa-Brazzaville Road and Railway Bridge

4) The Central Corridor in the United Republic of Tanzania

5) The Ethiopia-Sudan Power Interconnector being sponsored

by the East African Community (EAC)

6) The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor sponsored by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

The Batoka Gorge hydropower station which entails the construction of an 181 meter gravity dam and the installation of eight 200MW units with the power shared equally between the Zambia and Zimbabwe. The 1,600 MW of electricity the project will produce will be enough to ease shortages in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Since the two countries are connected to the Southern  African Power Pool (SAPP), which coordinates the management of electricity in the region, the proposed power station will also benefit member states of SADC, with the exception of Angola, Malawi, and Tanzania.

The ZTK interconnector entails a high-voltage power transmission line connecting Zambia, United Republic of Tanzania and Kenya. Once completed it will create a link between SAPP and the East African Power Pool (EAPP), making it possible to transmit power from Cape Town in South Africa to Cairo, in Egypt.

The 2,206 km interconnector will have a capacity of 400MW. It is a Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)-SADC-EAC Tripartite Priority project as well as a New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) project under the PIDA program and the Africa Power Vision, and has been endorsed by the African Union (AU) heads of state and government.

The proposed Kinshasa-Brazzaville Road and Railway Bridge will be a railroad bridge across the Congo River to link Kinshasa and Brazzaville, the capitals of the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) and Republic of Congo, respectively. It also will involve the construction of a 1,000 km railway to connect the cities of Kinshasa and Ilebo in the D.R.C., as well as development of road networks on both sides of the Congo River to link the two countries to the bridge. Sponsored by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the project would be part of the Central Corridor which involves the construction of the Dar-es-Salaam to Chalinze Toll Road.

SADC Deputy Executive Secretary responsible for corporate affairs, Emilie Mushobekwa said infrastructure development “requires sustained efforts from all stakeholders to maintain the momentum of implementation. Sustaining this momentum requires that in addition to political will, other necessary enabling conditions are availed.”

PIDA is a blueprint for African infrastructure transformation for the period 2012-2040. The program was adopted by African leaders in January 2012 and provides a strategic framework for priority infrastructure projects to interconnected

and integrated region. The African Development Bank, African Union Commission, Namibian government, NEPAD, and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa organized the 2017 PIDA Week to present the project to potential donors

Chinese Firms Have Built, or are Building Hydropower PrpjectsTotaling 3.7 Gigawatts of Electric Capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa

{New China} reported Dec. 27. This is increasing the region’s installed electric capacity (currently at 28 GW) by about 15%. Projects in Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola and DR Congo have also created tens of thousands of jobs. Africa’s sub-Saharan electricity deficit is still huge, with two-thirds lacking reliable electricity access.

China’s Investment in New Transport Networks Can Set a Mark

Dec. 27, 2017–China’s Ministry of Transport held a conference, reported in the government newspaper {People’s Daily}, on the Ministry’s planned 2018 investment in transportation infrastructure. The scale of new infrastructure in 2017, also reported there, gives an idea of what it takes to build out new national transportation networks rapidly, at a time when the United States, for one, is about to hold a debate on this subject.

{Peoples Daily} reported that China’s transportation infrastructure investments were $323 billion equivalent in 2017 through November, or roughly total $350 billion for 2017 as a whole. This equals about seven years’ of surface transportation bills in the United States.

The plans for 2018 are for 5,000 km of new roads, renovation of 216,000 km of roads, 4,000 km of rail, and increasing container port freight-handling volumes by more than 15%.

Reuters reported that at this conference, the Ministry said it intended to speed up the construction of logistics hubs and inland waterways, build more roads to reach rural areas, and concentrate on accelerating the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin urban triangle plan, mainly by improving roads and rail lines. It notes, “Infrastructure investment is expected to be among the biggest drivers of China’s economic growth in coming years.”

Sudan: Sanctions Lifted, Now Development Is Imperative

Lawrence Freeman

October 24, 2017

            On October 12, the U.S. announced the long overdue, official removal of some sanctions on Sudan. Now, new and exciting potentials lie ahead for the future of Sudan and its people. This is not the time to delay; the government of Sudan should seize the moment to implement policies that will lead to the economic development of this vast nation, and the raising of the standard of living of its more than forty million citizens. 

According to U.S. government representatives, President Trump’s executive decision does not terminate President’s Clinton’s E.O. 13067, issued on November 3, 1997, but it removes those sanctions that had enforced an embargo on commercial transactions with Sudan.  Thus, now companies and individuals wishing to export, invest, and trade with Sudan can conduct business using the international banking system without fear of being penalized. However, targeted sanctions remain, and there are licensing requirements for agricultural and medical exports.

This milestone in U.S.-Sudan relations is, in large part, due to the relentless efforts by Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour, especially his leadership over the last sixteen months. Professor Ghandour, who was appointed to head Sudan’s foreign office in June 2015, has successfully changed the dynamics of a detrimental and hostile U.S. attitude against his nation.  Nearly twenty years of sanctions have accomplished nothing except to cause greater suffering and hardship for the Sudanese people.  Finally, this suffocating policy has ended, allowing Sudan the opportunity to move forward. 

However, the U.S. now maintains a peculiar and contradictory policy towards Sudan: Lifting trade sanctions allows companies to conduct commercial activity in Sudan without penalty, but the U.S. cannot offer financial support to investors from any of its lending institutions, because Sudan remains on the U.S. State Department’s list of “states sponsoring terrorism” (SST).

Under the administration’s new executive order, Sudan is removed from a short list of nations under “comprehensive sanctions”: North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Cuba, and is placed on a broader list of nations subject to “targeted sanctions.” The government of Sudan intends to seek redress of its wrongful inclusion on the SST list. Removal from this list would allow Sudan to seek relief from its onerous forty-plus billions of dollars of debt, and make it eligible to receive favorable treatment from U.S. lending facilities. Unfortunately, removing Sudan from the SST list would require the approval of the U.S. Congress, which is still antagonistic towards Sudan.

Shaping a Better Future with China’s Belt and Road

Since Sudan’s liberation from colonialism, during which, the British Imperialists codified into law the artificial division between the so-called North and South, Sudan has never realized it full economic potential. This lack of development has been at the core of Sudan’s difficulties. This can now change.   

The spirit of China’s 21st Century Silk Road has created a new dynamic on the African continent that Sudan is well positioned to harness. Sudan’s neighbors in East Africa are already participating in a density of construction of new rail lines going East to West that have the potential to transform Africa, becoming the eastern leg of the long-awaited East-West railroad that would link the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans. Ethiopia has completed the first electrically driven railroad connecting the capital Addis Ababa to the Port of Djibouti, and has devised a strategy to connect to all its neighboring countries by rail. Kenya has completed the first phase of the standard-gauge railroad, from the Port of Mombasa to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. This the first phase of a plan to connect the nations of the Horn of Arica to those of the Great Lakes Region. Tanzania has begun the first two stages of Dar es Salaam-Iska-Kagali/Keza-Musongati (DIKKM) rail project, a 1672-kilometer railroad connecting Kigali in Rwanda and Musongati in Burundi to Kenya’s Port of Dar Es Salaam. Most of these transportation infrastructure projects are being supported by China, both in funding and construction.

The Port of Sudan is officially on China’s Maritime Silk Road, and the Ports of Mombasa, Djibouti, and Dar es Salaam are there implicitly.

 Sudan is geographically positioned to become the nexus point for the East-West and North South trans-Africa rail-lines, possibly crossing in the city of Sennar on the Blue Nile. The Sudanese government has already prepared an ambitious multi-phase plan to connect all parts of its territory with its neighbors by rail. China has been a consistent economic partner of Sudan and is a likely candidate to collaborate on these rail projects.

Sudan is also in urgent need of more electricity to power its economy. The erection of the Merowe Dam, with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, was a significant accomplishment in 2009-2010, and there have been smaller hydropower projects in the eastern portion of the country. However, Sudan, like the rest of sub-Sharan Africa, is suffering from a huge deficit in electrical power that is now holding back, and will continue to retard economic growth until it is rectified. Sub-Saharan Africa needs over 1,000 gigawatts of power to begin to obtain the level of modern Afro-industrial societies  

Sudan Is Open for Business

Speaking in Washington, D.C. on October 16, at a forum sponsored by the Corporate Council of Africa, Sudanese Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Mohamed Othman Al-Rikabii outlined the areas of potential investments in Sudan’s resources, including; water, gold, oil, mining, livestock, gas, and tourism.  He emphasized the enormous potential for investment in agriculture in Sudan, with presently only 20% of its sixty million hectares of fertile land under cultivation.

For the first time in decades, Sudan has the opportunity to design polices that focus on the development of the nation. Productive employment must be created to provide hope for a better future for the Sudanese people, especially its youth, who are living in poverty. This will require immediate construction–shovels in the ground–of vitally needed infrastructure. China, in the “Spirit of the New Silk Road,” will undoubtedly be a willing partner to Sudan’s future economic growth. Whether the U.S., under President Trump, will be wise enough to contribute to Sudan’s development after twenty years of failed sanctions, remains to be seen.  As for the government of Sudan, there is no time to waste, and no acceptable delays.  Economic development is the agenda.