Africa has long been lagging behind other continents in terms of infrastructure development. For this very reason, a growing number of investors from around the world have been showing interest in the region. Given its present situation, Africa holds great potential for development in the energy, water, transport, and ICT sectors – if only the right resources, funding, and support groups are present. Individuals like Samuel Best-Koufie, Chairman of Global Merchant Capital Limited, are spending an immense amount of energy and resources on investing in the young, under-developed infrastructure of African countries.
While many projects have already started, local governments still look forward to gaining more investments in the future in their pursuit to becoming more progressive. South African President Jacob Zuma has admitted that his country is facing huge challenges in infrastructure, which affect regional integration. He believes that his country will only attain economic development and become more competitive when efficient infrastructure networks are put in place. By then, the poor communities will have improved their agricultural production and will have better links to markets.
Zuma further revealed that seven presidential infrastructure projects are now in progress and being undertaken by seven African nations. In 2012, the South African President unveiled a plan to pursue infrastructure projects worth $97 billion up to 2015. The amount was to be used for upgrading roads, ports, and transportation networks with the end goal of getting access to coal and other minerals.
The World Bank, for its part, said Africa will require a yearly investment of $93 billion over the next decade to bridge its infrastructure deficit. South Africa has a long-term plan that would entail $462 billion, while Nigeria will require a yearly budget of $15 billion. Nigeria, despite security problems, is also enjoying direct investments – including those in the oil and non-oil sector (services, consumer goods, banking, and entertainment) industries.
Top Potential Projects
According to the latest Infrastructure 100 Report issued by KPMG, six of the top 100 infrastructure projects in the world are in Africa. These cover waste to energy projects, cable projects, railway systems, and network projects.
The largest and most ambitious project identified in Africa is the BRICS Submarine Cable. This involves the setting up of an underwater fibre-optic cable system measuring 34,000 meters. It aims to link the U.S. to China, India, Russia and South Africa and improve broadband capability.
The Durban Waste to Energy Project is another example; it aims to generate and provide electricity to some 6,000 households by using methane gas taken from waste dumps.
Great opportunities await the continent as it embarks on these infrastructure projects. For one, it will allow African nations to work with international organizations in improving their engineering and managerial capabilities. Secondly, it provides an opportunity for the private sector to work together with government notably in the areas of formulating new engineering courses, programs and colleges.
With the assistance of various groups and organizations that are dedicated to helping Africa and its people, development can move forward on a faster and larger scale.
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency, launched in 2001, is considered a technical body of the African Union (AU). Its primary objective is to facilitate and coordinate the implementation of priority programs and projects on both the regional and continental level. It covers different areas such as agriculture and food security, climate change and natural resource management, regional integration and infrastructure, human development, economic and corporate governance, and gender and capacity development.
The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) is another group that is committed to improving the lives and economic situation of Africans by encouraging, supporting, and promoting investment in utilizing public and private sources. It is also involved in coordinating activities of its members and other sources of infrastructure funds. Its members include the G8 countries, South Africa, African Development Bank, Development Bank of Southern Africa, European Commission, European Investment Bank, and the World Bank Group. As of 2012, the ICA reported a 57 percent annual increase in commitments amounting to $18.7 billion and a 47 percent rise in disbursements amounting to $12.8 billion.
Global Merchant Capital Limited is a major player in Africa’s infrastructure development projects. According to Chairman Samuel Best-Koufie, they are focused on raising funds for both public and private infrastructure projects in West Africa.
“We were not originally focusing our efforts on West African countries,” Best-Koufie revealed. “We had a few projects in that area, and within a short time period, we received requests from a lot of other African countries asking us to raise funds and also to come in with our technical expertise and knowledge to help to implement projects there. Our focus is mostly on raising funds and providing technical partners for sustainable Infrastructure projects and businesses. In some cases; I personally manage the project with my team of experts as leading consultants to ensure that the project is executed properly.
Recently, we were appointed by RatidzoSolution And Projects (Pty) Ltd as the Financial and Project Development Consultant to develop a new city in Douala, Cameroon on behalf of the Cameroon government. We are also a Senior Partner of Greenwich Energy Technology (Gh) Ltd and managed to secure an agreement with one of the biggest renewable energy companies in Thailand to establish and produce about 650MW of electricity in Ghana to help eradicate power shortages in the country. The project will be commissioned before the end of the year.
It is expected that as the country moves forward and improves its infrastructure, urban areas and even the underprivileged communities will benefit greatly.