According to the International Monetary Fund, IMF, Africa is the second-largest growing economy globally.
The continent is also the fastest urbanization region globally, presenting many economic opportunities.
China, therefore, comes in as a vital player in the continent’s development and urbanization push, with many companies of China origin funding infrastructure projects in Africa.
More than 10,000 Chinese-owned companies across Africa invest in electricity projects, road, concrete production, rail, etc.
Let’s explore the ten biggest projects undertaken by China in Africa;
1. Tazara Railway Project in Tanzania
In Tanzania, the Tazara Railway Project, the Tanzam Railway, Freedom Railway, or Uhuru Railway is China’s first and most significant construction in Africa.
The railway is the longest in Sub-Sahara Africa (connecting Tanzania to Zambia) and marks China as a major symbol of economic development in Africa.
Operation and Distance of the Tazara Railway Project in Tanzania
The Tazara Railway Project in Tanzania has a length of 1,160 miles (1,860 kilometers). It connects Zambia, a landlocked country, to Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam seaport. The railway has a track gauge of 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in).
Ownership of the Tazara Railway Project in Tanzania
The Tazara Railway Project is a bi-national railway owned jointly on a 50-50 shareholding basis by the governments of Tanzania and Zambia.
Nevertheless, it is essential to mention the involvement of the Zambia, Tanzania, and China governments, who signed an agreement in Beijing, China, to commence the rail construction on the 5th of September, 1967.
Duration of the Tazara Railway Project in Tanzania
The Tazara Railway Project in Tanzania lasted from 1970 to 1975. The plan to commence the rail construction began in 1967, while the commissioning happened in 1975.
2. Kilamba New City Project, Angola
During the social housing and urbanization projects in Angola, the China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) built Kilamba New City as a part of the post-war construction process.
Highlights about the Kilamba New City Project in Angola
Kilamba New City, otherwise the (Nova Cidade de Kilamba) or ghost town, according to many other people, is a 3.5 billion US dollar project of a modern satellite town remote from Luanda, Angola.
The Kilamba New City Project envelops 12,355 acres, accommodating 500,000 people with schools, retail outlets, and 750 eight-story residence buildings.
The project has helped make people’s lives better, making them their homeowners in a modern environment.
3. Kenya Standard Guage Railway
Kenya Standard Guage Railway, popularly called the Mombasa–Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, is a heavy rail operated by the Kenya Railways Corporation.
Impact of China in the Kenya Standard Guage Railway
China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is the contractor of Kenya Standard Guage Railway. The railway is among the most expensive infrastructure in Kenya, worth 3.6 billion US dollars.
General information about the Kenya Standard Guage Railway
The construction of the new Kenya Standard Guage Railway began in 2013, with the main construction commencing in the last month of 2014 and starting operation in 2017.
The railway covers 480 kilometers serving as a means of cargo and passenger transport across Mombasa and Nairobi, all in Kenya.
Furthermore, in October 2019, an extension of the project worth $1.5 billion started, covering Nairobi to Naivasha, making the overall length 578.8 kilometers.
4. Addis Ababa Djibouti SGR
The Indian Ocean is almost Chinese property as China has been showing its lights to East Africa in terms of infrastructure.
Among the biggest projects of China in Africa is rebuilding the historic Addis Ababa Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line.
Details about the Addis Ababa Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)
The Addis Ababa Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) was built and financed by China, covering 756 kilometers worth 4 billion US dollars.
It comprises a 2,355meters elevation from Addis Ababa to Djibouti seaport on the red sea. The railway transports passengers and goods linking Addis Ababa in Ethiopia with the Port of Doraleh in Djibouti.
Construction of the Addis Ababa Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) began in 2011 and progressed through 2016 before its inauguration on the 1st of January, 2018.
5. Caculo Cabaca Hydropower Project, Angola
Caculo Cabaca Hydropower is an ongoing power project in Angola and a signed contract between the country’s government and the Chinese government.
Upon seeing the challenges the country faces in terms of power generation, the government of China decided to help.
Angola is an energy-rich country that goes through deficient electricity generation, so China came to its rescue.
Information about the Caculo Cabaca Hydropower Project in Angola
In August 2017, there was an announcement about the Caculo Cabaca Hydropower Project in Angola to be handled by Gezhouba Group (CGGC) of China.
The project, which cost 4.5 billion US dollars, is expected to be completed by 2024, and it will provide energy of 2,172 MV while also meeting the electricity needs of the people by 50%.
The project’s station’s itinerary includes building a concrete dam of 103m high having a 553 meters crest and a 440 million cubic meters storage capacity.
The reservoir will have an inundated area of 16.6 kilometers square and a length of 16.3 kilometers. With five radial gates and a controlled frontal spillway, the hydraulic structure of the dam will have a 10.02m3/2, among others.
The Caculo Cabaca Hydropower Project was built at the Cuanza River in Angola, providing about 10,000 jobs to the locals.
The project will strengthen the tiles between Angola and China. Already, Angola is the primary Chinese source of imports in Africa and the second major trading partner.
6. Mambila Hydropower Project, Nigeria
The Mambila Hydropower Project in Nigeria is a hydroelectric facility of 3.05GW along the Dongo River close to Kakara village of Taraba State, Nigeria.
Before the Grand Renaissance Dam of 6,450MW in Ethiopia, Mambila Hydropower Project in Nigeria was the biggest power plant in Africa.
The project is financed 85% by the Chinese Export-Import Bank (Exim) and 15% by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
However, the Federal Ministry of Power, Construction, and Housing of Nigeria handle the project.
Composition of the Mambila Hydropower Project in Nigeria
According to the contract terms, the project will cost $5.8 billion, and the power plant will produce approximate annual electricity of 4.7 billion kWh upon proposed completion and operation in 2030.
Nigeria’s Mambila Hydropower Project will comprise 12 turbine-generator units, two underground powerhouses, and four dams (Api Weir, Nya (previously called Gembu), Nghu, and Sumsum dams).
The tailrace canal of the plant will be 25 meters wide and 3 kilometers long, while the headrace canal will be 15 meters wide and 3.1 kilometers long.
It will also have 8 meters each of the two 6 kilometers long tailrace tunnels.
A narration of the onset and developments of the Mambila Hydropower Project, Nigeria
The conception for constructing the Mambila Hydropower Project, Nigeria, was in 1972. However, in 2007, the Gezhouba Group, China, awarded the project of a 2,600MW capacity.
In 2010, the Chinese company concluded the ground survey for the project, and in 2011 the project received environmental approval.
In 2012, the capacity of the project was increased to 3,050MW before it stopped work but resumed again in 2016.
7. Tebessa Phosphate Plant, Algeria
Tebessa Phosphate Plant is a 6 billion US dollar project Algeria is building with China. In contrast, China holds a 49% share of the project while Sonatrach, Algeria holds a 51% share.
History of the Tebessa Phosphate Plant, Algeria
After many discussions and arrangements, on the 26th of November, 2018, China and Algeria signed a document of the corporation to construct the Tebessa Phosphate Plant project in Algeria.
Algeria anticipates project completion by 2022.
Prospect of the Tebessa Phosphate Plant in Algeria
Upon commencing production in the plant, the country expects to export fertilizer worth 2 billion every year. Already the project is providing over 14,600 local jobs.
As Algeria expects to be the third-largest fertilizer exporter globally, they also hope to increase their natural gas and phosphate reserves.
8. Nigeria Standard Guage Railway
Presently, the Nigeria Standard Guage Railway, which is supposed to cover Lagos to Kano, is still under construction in some areas and partly operational in other areas.
The project’s contractor is the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, with approval from the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2006. The project will cost 11.3 billion USD covering 2733km.
Highlights on the construction of the Nigeria Standard Guage Railway
The Nigeria Standard Guage Railway, also known as the Lagos-Kano Standard Guage Railway, will cover 835 miles (1,343 kilometers).
The Nigeria Standard Guage Railway project segments include Abuja to Kaduna, Lagos to Ibadan, Kaduna to Kano, Ibadan to Osogbo-Ilorin, Minna to Abuja Osogbo to Ado Ekiti, and Ilorin to Minna.
Abuja to Kaduna standard gauge railway (SGR) segment of the project, covering 187 km, opened officially on the 26th of July, 2016.
Also, the 156 km Lagos to Ibadan standard gauge railway (SGR) segment, which started construction in March 2017, began operation on the 10th of June, 2021, while construction is still ongoing at other parts.
9. Suez Canal Special Economic Zone, Egypt
The Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE), Egypt, is one of the biggest projects undertaken by China in Africa. The project is the shortest maritime route from Europe to Asia, making it a significant development to the economy of the country and continent.
General knowledge about the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE)
The Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE) comprises four industrial zones and six ports. About 18,000 ships which make 10% of the world trade, pass through this zone.
The zone has many ports, and terminals with plans to build the Sokhna and East Port Said cargo terminals. Presently, there is an upgrade across al-Arish, Adabiya, al-Tor, and West Port Said ports.
10. Egypt New Capital City
The Egypt New Capital City construction is mainly called the ‘New Administrative Capital (NAC),’ a $45 billion project ongoing along the desert of Cairo east, with China funding the majority of the project.
Overview of the construction of the Egypt New Capital City
The Egypt New Capital (New Administrative Capital) has an approximate size of 28 miles (45kilometers) which is the same size as Singapore.
The project started in 2016, and they expect to open it by December 2021.
The need for the construction of the New Administrative Capital of Egypt is to serve the doubling population of the area by 2050.
The NAC will house about 6 million people with 32 ministries and 34 government structures upon completion.
Among China’s investment in the project is the Central Business District’s (CBD) iconic 20-tower skyscraper built by the China State Construction Engineering Corp (CSCEC).
How many projects does China have in Africa?
China handles many infrastructural projects across over 34 African countries. Presently, they have over 18 projects in many African countries.
What has China built in Africa?
Over the years, China has to build presidential palaces, parliamentary and government houses, presidential and military castles, dams, power, ports, rails, roads, water, and sanitation across African countries.
Why is China heavily investing in Africa?
Since the 15th century, China has been heavily investing in Africa because of its enormous natural resources, which have vast potentials for export.
Despite the natural resources in Africa, the continent has low levels of industrialization. On the other hand, China has been the industrial hub of the globe.
They supply manufactured goods at a low cost, with Africa being the highest demanding country, so due to this, China invests so much in Africa.
Africa has the highest rural to urban migration globally, making it one of the fourth industrial revolution’s last edge and the fastest urbanization globally.
Even though the urbanization problem is a challenge to the continent, it is an opportunity to invest in countries like China, which invested billions in building African infrastructures.