Big infrastructure projects in Africa

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The North South Corridor (NSC) Aid for Trade Programme
South Africa is championing an initiative to boost intra-regional trade in Africa – the North South Corridor (NSC) Aid for Trade Programme, a brainchild of the COMESA, SADC and EAC. The NSC corridor is the busiest corridor in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of value and volume of freight.

The NSC comprises of inter-related projects that address road, rail, port, air transport infrastructure; border posts and energy interconnectors. It comprises the Dar es Salaam corridor linking the Port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania with the Copperbelt in Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo; and another link via the Copperbelt to the Port of Durban in South Africa. It spans 8 countries, three RECs and a total of 10 647 km of road.

When completed, the project is envisaged to improve 8 650 km of roads (outside SA) and 600 km of rail tracks. There are 157 identified projects in various stages of the project life cycle, including 59 road projects, 38 rail projects and six bridge projects. 
President Zuma, while updating the African Union on the progress of corridor last year said that the Trans-African Highway Route 4 would be incorporated to extend the NSC from Cape Town to Cairo. This development increased the number of projects to 204; 81 road, 48 rail and six bridges.

The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite lead this programme with the intention of speeding up the flow of traded goods, thereby reducing the transactions costs of cross-border trade.  The programme represents an innovative approach to supporting and developing physical infrastructure while also addressing trade facilitation and regulatory needs and deficiencies along the corridor.

Lake Turkana Wind Power project
The Lake Turkana Wind Power project has been under private development since 2005, and is Africa’s largest wind farm project. It is poised to provide 300 MW of clean power to Kenya’s national electricity grid by taking advantage of a unique wind resource in Northwest Kenya near Lake Turkana.
The Project is of significant strategic benefit to Kenya, and at Ksh70-billion (€600-million) will be the largest single private investment in Kenya’s history.
The wind farm site, covering 40,000 acres (162km2), is located in Loyangalani District, Marsabit West County, in north-eastern Kenya, approximately 50km north of South Horr Township.
The Project will comprise 365 wind turbines (each with a capacity of 850 kW), the associated overhead electric grid collection system and a high voltage substation.  The Project also includes upgrading of the existing road from Laisamis to the wind farm site, a distance of approximately 204km, as well as an access road network in and around the site for construction, operations and maintenance. 
The Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (Ketraco), with concessional funding from the Spanish Government, is constructing a double circuit 400kv, 428km transmission line to deliver the LTWP electricity along with power from other future plants to the national grid.
The Project proponent is the LTWP consortium comprising KP&P Africa B.V., Aldwych International, Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC), Industrial Fund for Developing Countries (IFU), and Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund). 
LTWP is solely responsible for the financing, construction and operation of the wind farm.  Aldwych, an experienced power company focused on Africa, will oversee the construction and operations of the power plant on behalf of LTWP. 
Vestas will provide the maintenance of the plant in contract with LTWP.  The power produced will be bought at a fixed price by Kenya Power (KPLC) over a 20-year period in accordance with the signed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
Mmamabula-Walvis Bay Trans-Kalahari Rail Line
The railway line, to be known as the Trans-Kalahari Railway, will be about 1 500 kilometres long from the landlocked Botswana’s Mmamabula coal field to the port of Walvis Bay.
This project is being jointly undertaken by the World Bank, the Namibian and Botswana transport authorities and CIC Energy. It has been reported that some twenty consortia submitted bids, although the project is still relatively uncertain.
A pre-feasibility study, funded by the World Bank, was completed last year. A top government mining official says the development of the proposed Trans-Kalahari railway line is critical in order to enable Botswana to unlock the future potential of its coal resources.
Much of the coal from Botswana to Namibia would have been used at an 800 megawatt coal-fired power station that was planned for Walvis Bay. This idea has in the meantime been abandoned in favour of an alternative site at Arandis, which was eventually put on hold because the government is giving priority to the Kudu Gas project.
Botswana’s minister of transport and communications, Nonofo Molefhi, said the railway project would be financed by the private sector, and would be implemented and overseen by a company jointly controlled by the Botswana and Namibian governments.
Bids for potential financing will be opened as soon as the agreement has been signed, which will cover all aspects, Molefhi said a conference.
The project will be owned by the government and although it is only in the beginning phases it could take up to five years to complete.
An agreement on the N$100-billion railway deal between Namibia and Botswana that was scheduled to be signed in Namibia in April 2013 has been “postponed until further notice.”

DESERTEC
DESERTEC is a project aimed at creating a global renewable energy plan based on the concept of harnessing solar power from the Sahara. The plan envisions generating renewable energy in one of the world’s sunniest locations and then piping it through a Mediterranean super-grid to energy-hungry European countries. The idea is that the deserted Sahara could supply energy to densely settled Europe.
The project company is formed by the DESERTEC foundation and a consortium of European and MENA companies. As of January 2013, Dii consists of 20 shareholders and 36 associate partners from countries of North Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
The first region for the assessment and application of this concept is the EU-MENA region (European Union, Middle East and Northern Africa). The DESERTEC organisations promote the generation of electricity in Northern Africa, the Middle East and Europe using renewable sources, such as solar power plants, wind parks, and develop a Euro-Mediterranean electricity network, primarily made up of high voltage direct current transmission cables.
Under the DESERTEC proposal, concentrating solar power systems, photovoltaic systems and wind parks would be spread over the desert regions in Northern Africa like the Sahara desert.
The generated electricity would be transmitted to European and African countries by a super grid of high-voltage direct current cables. It would provide a considerable part of the electricity demand of the MENA countries and furthermore provide continental Europe with 15% of its electricity needs.
Exported desert power would complement Europe’s transition to renewables which would be based primarily on harnessing domestic sources of energy that would increase its energy independence.
According to a scenario by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), by 2050, investments into solar plants and transmission lines would be total €400 billion. An exact proposal how to realize this scenario, including technical and financial requirements, will be designed by 2012/2013.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, formerly known as the Millennium Dam, is under construction on the Blue Nile River about 40 km east of Sudan in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia. It is part of plans announced in April 2011 to build four large dams on the Nile.
At 6,000MW the dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa when completed. The reservoir, at 63 billion cubic meters, will be one of the continent’s largest. The dam will flood 1 680 square kilometers of forest in northwest Ethiopia, near the Sudan border, and create a reservoir that is nearly twice as large as Lake Tana, Ethiopia’s largest natural lake.
On 31 March 2011 a US$4.8-billion contract was awarded to Salini Costruttori and the dam’s foundation stone was laid on 2 April 2011 by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. A rock crushing plant has been constructed along with a small air strip for fast transportation. Construction is expected to last 44 months when two generators would be operational.
Egypt, which lies downstream, opposes the dam which it believes will reduce the amount of water that it gets from the Nile. Zenawi argued, based on an unnamed study, that the dam would not reduce water availability downstream and would also regulate water for irrigation. In May 2011, it was announced that Ethiopia would share blueprints for the dam with Egypt so the downstream impact could be examined.

Mtwara Development Corridor Project
The Mtwara Development Corridor involves Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia and entails 300 prospective projects. The leaders of four SADC member states met in 2004 to sign a legal framework to make the Mtwara Development Corridor a reality.
The project’s aim is to develop a transportation corridor that will provide these regions with easier access to the port at Mtwara, Tanzania, as well as other transit corridors within the focus areas of the project.
To address the problem of a transportation bottleneck developing in the region, an upgrade of infrastructure was required with the future development and rehabilitation of roads and bridges, sea and lake ports, telecommunications, air transport facilities and ferry services being the objective of the project.
Anchor projects will include the Manda-Mchuchuma-Mtwara rail line from Lake Malawi to the coast. The rail line alone is estimated to cost approximately $1.7-billion.
Other development projects under the Mtwara Corridor Development Initiative include: the Unity Bridge across the Ruvuma river between Negomano in Mozambique and Mtambaswala on the Tanzanian side; the Mbamba Bay road, almost 900 km from Lake Malawi/Nyasa to Mtwara that would efficiently connect Malawi, Tanzania and northern Mozambique.
Furthermore an oil pipeline on the same route from Mtwara port to Mbamba Bay; a heavy capacity ferry linking Mbamba Bay with Nkhata Bay across the lake in Malawi; and the deepwater harbour and port at Mtwara to be expanded and operations improved.

Square Kilometre Array Telescope
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is going to be the world’s biggest radio telescope and will be developed in South Africa, where the view of the Milky Way Galaxy is best and radio interference least. It is a global project with 10 member countries which aims to provide answers to fundamental questions about the origin and evolution of the Universe.
With a budget of €1.5-billion, construction of the SKA is scheduled to begin in 2016 for initial observations by 2019, and full operation by 2024.
In April 2011, Jodrell Bank Observatory (of the University of Manchester) in Cheshire, England was announced as the location of the headquarters office for the project.
The SKA will have a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometre, and will operate over a wide range of frequencies and its size will make it 50 times more sensitive than any other radio instrument.
The construction of the SKA telescope will not only bring enormous benefits to the scientific community, but considerable amounts of work for manufacturers as well.
Although parts of the project are to be shared with Australia, the bulk of the infrastructure needed for the R15-billion project will be spent in South Africa.


It will require very high performance central computing engines and long-haul links with a capacity greater than the current global Internet traffic.  Thus a related development is the plan to have 13 125km of fibre-optic cable refurbished and strengthened across South Africa by 2020.

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