In 2019, construction projects across Africa will begin, continue or reach their conclusions, bringing to various countries and cities important economic stimulators, updated infrastructure and new opportunities.
Here’s a look at some of the largest and most important construction projects happening around the continent, including notes on how they will impact local populations.
1. Bourgreg Valley Development (Rabat, Morocco)
Morocco’s $1 billion Bourgreg Valley Development project will bring new neighborhoods, commercial real estate and public spaces to 14,826 acres in the capital of Rabat. At the center of this project will be the Bank of Africa tower, which will stand 820 feet tall — second tallest in Africa only behind The Pinnacle tower in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Bourgreg Valley Development project is more than just residential and commercial real estate, though. It will also include a house of arts and culture as well as the creation of natural ecological spaces and the preservation of cultivated land. If everything goes as planned, construction on Rabat’s Grand Theater, which is part of the project, will be finished by early 2019.
The project aims to transform the urban landscape on both sides of the Bouregreg river and to enhance its attractiveness. According to Zarrou, the Director General of the Agency for the Development of the Bouregreg Valley, construction works of the project are “going well.”
2. Konza Technology City (Nairobi, Kenya)
The Kenyan government is making an enormous investment ($14.5 billion) to create a large technology hub just 64 kilometers south of Nairobi. Not only will this hub include data centers and facilities for light manufacturing and software development, it will also include neighborhoods, schools, shopping malls, hospitals and hotels.
3. Modderfontein New City (Johannesburg, South Africa)
Chinese firm Zendai Property Limited has started development activities for Modderfontein New City, an $8 billion project that will bring affordable housing, education facilities and a financial trade center to nearly 4,000 acres northeast of Johannesburg.
Zendai is offering an ambitious vision for Modderfontein New City’s future, suggesting that it can become the New York City of Africa and that it will someday serve as the capital city of the entire continent.
4. Maputo-Katembe Bridge (Maputo Bay, Mozambique)
The Maputo-Katembe Bridge became Africa’s longest suspension bridge when the $750 million project reached completion in late 2018. In 2019, this bridge will provide an important route across the Maputo Bay, reducing the travel time between Mozambique and South Africa and providing a more direct route for trade activity.
The project includes more than just a suspension bridge, though. The overall development also included 200 kilometers of roads and five smaller bridges located around Maputo Bay. During construction, this project also generated more than 3,000 jobs for the local population.
5. Walvis Bay Port Container Terminal (Walvis Bay, Namibia)
Namibia’s Walvis Bay serves as an important port and safe haven for sea vessels. In 2018, construction of a new Walvis Bay Port container terminal began. This new terminal will eventually broaden Namibia’s access to international markets, stimulate economic activity and provide new jobs to the local population.
This project also calls for new and modern port equipment, as well as training programs for those interested in becoming pilots and operators at the new container terminal. Completion of the project is expected in summer 2019.
6. Bridge Jinja (Kampala, Uganda)
In late 2018, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni cut the ribbon on Bridge Jinja, a 525-meter, $112 million cable-stayed bridge that creates an important connection between the capital city of Kampala on the west bank and other Ugandan cities and the Kenyan border on the east bank.
Given that Uganda is a landlocked country, this new bridge will provide an important import-export route through Kenya in 2019 and beyond.
7. Worker Training Academy (Cairo, Egypt)
Work is underway on Egypt’s New Administrative Capital, located 50 kilometers east of Cairo. One of the centerpieces of this new development is a worker-training academy that will occupy about 50 acres.
The academy will focus on training Egyptians construction workers on the latest and most advanced techniques and systems in the industry. Including this academy as part of the New Administrative Capital will help citizens gain jobs while also creating a workforce for future development in Egypt.
8. Caculo Cabaca Hydroelectric Plant (Dondo, Angola)
In 2017, Angolan officials broke ground on the Caculo Cabaca hydroelectric plant in the city of Dondo. Construction of the plant could last up to five years, but, once finished, it is expected to deliver electricity access to between 30% and 60% of the nation’s population.
The project is expected to create jobs for Angolans, and it will also serve to stimulate the economy as the country will be able to export some of the plant’s electricity to the nearby nations of Namibia and South Africa.
9. Pointe-Noire Special Economic Zone (Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo)
The Pointe-Noire Special Economic Zone in the Republic of Congo is an in-development project that will cover nearly 9,000 acres near a strategically important port that also serves as a hub for the oil industry. It will bring vital infrastructure and manufacturing facilities to this key area that serves as the backbone of the country’s economy.
Once completed, the Pointe-Noire Special Economic Zone is expected to stimulate economic activities within the Republic of Congo, while also creating more than 100,000 jobs for Congolese citizens. The project is expected to generate $1.12 billion by 2022, $2.18 billion by 2026 and $3.57 billion by 2031.
10. North-South Corridor Project (Multiple Countries)
Africa’s population is expected to explode in the 21st century, doubling from its current 1.2 billion to 2.4 billion by 2050. All those people will need significant infrastructure improvements and upgrades to traverse the continent and create economic activity that leads to jobs.
The North-South Corridor Project is perhaps Africa’s most ambitious infrastructure project, including roads and railways that span 6,000 miles across seven countries (Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa) at a cost of $1 billion.
Pan African eCommerce Giant Jumia Makes History with NYSE listing
Jumia Technologies made history on 10th April 2019 following the approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) allowing the pan-African e-commerce giant to sell its shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Consequently, Jumia started trading its shares at $14.50 using the ticker symbol JMIA. This makes Jumia Technologies the first African startup to secure major global exchange listing.
Jumia is currently active in fourteen African countries including Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Tanzania. The e-commerce platform has 81,000 active sellers with over 5,000 direct employees. According to a statement contained in its recent SEC filing, Jumia Technologies added three hundred thousand new active customers in the first quarter of 2019.
Through the sale of its American Depositary Shares, the company can raise up to $316. According to the Corporate Communications officer, Lisette Kwong, Jumia initially set its IPO at $14.50 but it opened and closed at higher prices.
Jumia’s Brief History and Growth
Jumia was co-founded in 2012 by Sacha Poignonnec, Jeremy Hodara, Tunde Kehinde and Raphael Kofi Afaedor. The company was an outgrowth of the Rocket Internet Company. However, its rapid growth allowed it to secure funding from investors like Millicom group, MTN, Orange, Goldman Sachs, and CDC. According to The Guardian, MTN is the largest shareholder with 29.7%. Rocket Internet is second on the log with 20.6%. Other investors and their stake include AXA Africa holdings (5.8%), AEH New Africa eCommerce (8.4%), and Millicom (9.6%).
The two Nigerian co-founders, Raphael Afaedor and Tunde Kehinde are credited with the creation of some of the company’s components including JumiaPay. However, they left the company in 2015 to build other startups.
What Next For Jumia?
Jumia’s share price was up by 61% in early trade. Inasmuch as NASDAQ is traditionally for technology companies, Jumia decided to list on NYSE. The Head of International Capital Markets at the NYSE, Mr. Alex Ibrahim said the company did so because they saw the benefits. According to Ibrahim, the volatility of NYSE is higher than its competitors. Speaking on the listing of the company on NYSE, the co-founders said,
“This achievement has been made possible thanks to the hard work of our teams, the trust of our consumers, as well as the commitment of our sellers and partners. All stakeholders deserve credit for this milestone, and we are just at the beginning of a long and great journey. We are going to continue to focus on our mission and to work even harder to help consumers, sellers, partners, and all stakeholders benefit from this technological revolution.”
Jumia is attracting lots of attention but the pan-African eCommerce giant is not a stranger to accolades. Some of the awards on Jumia’s archive include;
- Best New Retail (World Retail Awards 2013)
- Online Retail Brand of the year (Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria (2013)
- The innovative business of the year (Success Digest 2013)
- Leadership ICT company of the year (2013)
- Best use of Mobile App (Rima Awards)
E-commerce website of the year (Beacon of ICT Award)
Gambia’s AfCFTA Ratification Means Africa Will Soon Become The Largest Free Trade Area In The World
The dream for a Continental Free Trade area in Africa became a reality when Gambia ratified the agreement. Initially, prospects of the agreement becoming a reality were hindered by a lack of numbers—falling short on the minimum threshold. With Gambia ratifying the agreement, the bill can now be actualized.
Gambia became the 22nd African country to approve the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement—AfCFTA. Ethiopia was the 21st country to ratify AfCFTA when it approved the agreement on March 21, 2019. Gambia parliament ratified the agreement on April 2 2019.
African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement
The African Union brokered the agreement in 2018. The agreement was then signed by 44 countries on March 21 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda—out of a total of 55 member states. Among other provisions, the agreement requires member states to remove tariffs from 90 percent of goods. In addition, member countries will be required to allow free access of goods and services across the continent.
From March 17 to March 21, 2018, an Extraordinary Summit on AfCFTA was held in Kigali, Rwanda. During the summit, the agreement establishing AfCFTA was presented to African leaders for signatures. The agreement was framed such that it goes into force 30 days after 22 countries have ratified the agreement instruments. Furthermore, ratifying states are required to deposit the instruments with the Chairperson of AUC—African Union Commission.
Gambia’s ratification and completion of all due processes satisfy this constitutional requirement to bring the agreement into effect.
Only 20 countries have ratified and deposited the required instruments with the AUC Chairperson—as of April 16, 2019. Two countries, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone, have obtained parliamentary approval but have not deposited the instruments.
The 20 countries that have already deposited the instruments of ratification include The Gambia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Togo, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Uganda, South Africa, Namibia, Mauritania, Mali, eSwatini (former Swaziland), Guinea, Djibouti, Congo Republic, Chad, Niger, Rwanda, Kenya, and Ghana.
Notable Non Signatory
The AfCFTA is moving forward, however, Nigeria’s lack of commitment to the agreement is a big blow. Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy but only an estimated 10% of its trade volume is done with other African countries. Nigeria’s hold out has been blamed primarily on influential Labor Unions
During the 2019 African CEO Forum in Kagali last month, President Kagame of Rwanda who had championed the AfCFTA during his tenure as the African Union Chairperson shared that he had reached out to Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari to sign the deal.
There are still concerns however about how the agreement will be executed. At the same event, African billionaire Naguib Sawiris said: “The challenges are going to be in the implementation.”
Impact of the Agreement
The AfCFTA is expected to boost free trade and investment across Africa. Once it comes into effect, the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement area will create the largest free trade area in the world. The agreement will bring together all the 55 member states of the AU. This means the agreement will cover a market of over 1.2 billion people. The Economic Commission for Africa estimates that this agreement has the potential of boosting intra-African trade by 52.3 percent.
Mauritius and Kenya Sign New Deal. Ban Lifted on Kenya’s Produce
Kenya and Mauritius signed a new deal that saw Mauritius lifting a ban on Kenyan farm produce. The new agreement enhances trade between the two African countries. Mauritius had initially banned baby beans, baby carrots, broccoli, and avocados from Kenya. Bilateral talks between Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth and Kenya President Uhuru Kenya culminated in the lifting of the ban on these products.
The bilateral talks also saw the signing of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement—DTAA. In addition, the two leaders signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation for the development of an Export Processing Zone in Kenya.
Kenya and Mauritius also signed an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. Other agreements signed include MOU in the field of arts and culture, an MOU in the field of higher education and scientific research, and an MOU on tourism.
Impact of the Deal
The signed agreements will boost Kenya’s ambitions to reach its development goals. According to President Kenyatta, the agreements will particularly boost Kenya’s manufacturing sector and create employment opportunities.
The new deal will further foster cooperation between Mauritius and Kenya. This means that the cordial relationship between the two countries is enhanced. This relationship will boost trade and investment opportunities in both countries.
Both Kenya and Mauritius have long coastlines, and more benefits can be derived in their blue economies through cooperation. President Kenyatta stated that there is a need for the two countries to look for ways of enhancing maritime transport by linking the Port of Mombasa to Port Louis. An established link is considered a catalyst for growing trade and businesses in the two countries.
The key benefit to Kenya from the deal is the promotion of its agricultural produce. Mauritius lifted a three-year ban on Kenyan avocado. Kenya lost the avocado market in Mauritius in 2015. The ban was due to the Mauritian National Plant Protection Office citing low hygiene standards of the Kenyan avocados. Lifting of the ban will now see more exports of avocados to Mauritius, along with other farm produce such as baby carrots and broccoli.
Kenya’s deal with Mauritius follows an initial pact with China. In 2018, Kenya signed deals with China and the Republic of Korea that opened opportunities for farmers to export more agriculture products to the two countries. The Kenya-China agreement opened opportunities for Kenya to export meat, flowers, and a selection of fruits and vegetables to China.
Kenyatta’s visit to Mauritius for the deal makes him the first Kenyan president to visit Mauritius.
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