SADC showcases the region in China, seeks investment in infrastructure

by Kizito Sikuka – SANF 15 no 34
Southern Africa has taken its multi-billion-dollar infrastructure development plan to potential funders in China – a country that is now the leading investor in Africa.

In the last decade or so, Chinese investments in Africa have been on the rise, despite an overall decrease of foreign investment on the continent by some traditional partners due to a combination of factors, including depleted resources caused by the 2008/09 global financial and economic downturn.

According to the latest white paper on China-Africa economic trade and cooperation released in 2013, Chinese investment in Africa has rapidly increased from US$1.44 billion in 2009 to US$2.52 billion in 2012.

In addition to this, several agreements targeting infrastructure development have been signed to boost the blooming China-Africa partnership.

One such deal, hailed by the chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as the “most substantive project the AU has ever signed with a partner,” is a continental transport deal signed early this year to develop road, rail and air transport routes to link cities across the continent.

At present, the quickest route to travel from one side of Africa to another can involve connections routed via Europe, although it is feasible to connect directly.

To complement this cooperation, as well as attract a significant share of Chinese investment into the region, SADC presented its infrastructure development plan to Chinese investors at a recent SADC-China Infrastructure Investment Seminar held in Beijing.

The seminar follows two other successful investment conferences held in 2013 in Maputo, Mozambique and London, United Kingdom to attract investors for the SADC infrastructure programme.

At these meetings, various infrastructure projects in the six priority areas of energy, transport, telecommunications, tourism, meteorology and water were presented to potential funders.

The projects are contained in the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP) approved by SADC leaders at their 32nd Ordinary Summit held in August 2012 in Maputo.

The RIDMP is a 15-year blueprint that will guide the implementation of cross-border infrastructure projects between 2013 and 2027 over three five-year intervals, with the first phase covering the period from 2012 to 2017 and costing around US$64 billion in investment.

The second and third intervals will cover the periods from 2017-2022 and 2022-2027, respectively, with a total proposed investment target of between US$428 billion and US$558 billion.

At the Chinese investment seminar, greater focus was on showcasing the main priority projects contained in the short-term action plan covering the period 2012-2017, and in particular those projects in the energy, transport and water sectors.

The target for the energy sector is to address the four key areas of energy security, improving access to modern energy services, tapping the abundant energy resources in the continent and up-scaling financial investment whilst enhancing environmental sustainability.

Priority energy projects earmarked for implementation by 2017 include the construction of the ZiZaBoNa Interconnector Project linking Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia, as well as the establishment of the Namibia-Angola Interconnector that will connect the latter to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).

All mainland SADC countries, with the exception of Angola, Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania, are interconnected to the regional grid through SAPP, allowing them to trade in energy.

With regard to the water sector, the short-term RIDMP plan prioritizes strengthening institutions; preparation of bankable strategic water infrastructure development projects; increased water storage to prepare for resilience against climate change; improved access to safe drinking water; and strengthening of sanitation facilities for SADC citizens.

With respect to the transport sector plan, focus is on effective regulation of transport services; liberalization of transport markets; development of corridors and facilitation of cross-border movement; construction of missing regional transport links; and harmonization of road safety data systems.

The priority transport projects to be implemented by 2017 include those targeting the expansion, rehabilitation and modernisation of Durban and Walvis Bay ports; new road links connecting Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); and the introduction of a one-stop border post at Beitbridge between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“The objective of the conference was to bring to the table, a number of bankable projects and those under preparation for consideration and possible funding,” the SADC Secretariat said in a statement.

Chinese investors expressed satisfaction with the projects and pledged to invest in the region. China is already heavily involved in a number of projects in various SADC countries.

These include the construction of various road projects in the DRC, and the development of mineral exploitation and processing plants in South Africa.

In Zimbabwe, China is implementing a number of projects such as the Kariba South Hydropower Station expansion project, rehabilitation of municipal water supply in Harare and sewage treatment systems, as well as the expansion of the Victoria Falls airport.

The SADC-China Infrastructure Investment Seminar held on 9 July was organized by the SADC Secretariat in collaboration with the SADC Committee of Ambassadors in Beijing, the China-Africa Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The theme for the seminar was “Energy, Water and Transport Revitalisation in the SADC Region”. sardc.net


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