Hip, hip, hooray! 10 significant projects that were completed in Africa in 2014

Railways, pipelines, highways...and a pirate prison in Somalia. Some serious folks stayed up late and did the hard work!

AWAY from politics, 2014 saw the completion of several momentous economic projects in Africa, set to transform countries and regions even further. The launch of these projects is set to bring communities closer together, encourage investment and facilitate more development. 

Here are only 10 of these projects that have been accomplished in Africa this year. 

1. Conakry - Bamako highway 

At the very beginning of 2014 the African Development Bank (AfDB) opened its $17 million infrastructure project between Guinea’s capital Conakry and Bamako in Mali. The transnational intercity highway is the only point of entry and exit between the two cities. 

Having been heavily overcrowded, catering for thousands of people daily, the new road has remodelled transportation in the region, at the same time significantly improving safety. Before the completion of the highway breakdowns were rampant, forcing some drivers to remain on the road for days. This 938km distance can now be covered in 12 - 16hours. More importantly, the goods from the border of Guinea, an area which relies on its sales to Bamako, can now arrive in the Malian capital in no more than 30min. (Completed: January 2014)

2. Abidjan Bridge, Cote d’Ivoire

One of Cote d’Ivoire’s biggest projects in history has been completed this year. A $300 million bridge in Abidjan now connects the two halves of the city through the Ébrié Lagoon. 

The bridge, 592m long, is part of a more complex motorway development between the lagoon, Bulevard Mitterand and Bulevard Giscard d’Estaing, totalling a 6.7km route. The project, financed partly by Africa Finance Cooperation (AFC) from Nigeria, is an important achievement in Cote d’Ivoire’s capital, which struggles with good infrastructure. Connecting the port area by an expressway will significatly improve the time taken for goods to go in and out of the country, a blessing especially to the cocoa producers - the world’s biggest. The bridge, however, will not be free. The french group Bouygues which built the bridge wants to impose a toll for motorists of about 500 - 1,000 CFA francs ($1 - $2). Many say this might be unaffordable to the general public.

3. Pirate Prison in Somalia

Since the start of the war on piracy off the Somali coast in 2005, the world has increasingly moved together to curb the loss of lives and property taking place around the Gulf of Aden. In April 2014 the president of Puntland, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas, officially opened the biggest pirate prison ever built in the Horn of Africa.

Garowe, the region’s capital, was chosen as the location for the 500-persons prison, a project funded by the United Nation’s Office for Project Services (UNOPS). The initiative comes four years after Puntland’s first commitment to Anti-Piracy in 2010 and is an important statement in the direction of civil rights and international law within the country. (Completed in April 2014)

4. Abu Jifar Airport, Ethiopia

At the cost of $49 million, the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise reconstructed Abu Jifar Airport in the town of Jimma in Oromia state, Ethiopia’s largest region. The new airport, aiming at boosting regional trade and country’s tourism, will handle flights between Addis Ababa, Gambela, Assosa and Arbaminch the capital cities of Gambela and Benishangul-Gumuz regions and the largest city in the Gamo Gofa Omo zone respectively. 

The airport is able to accommodate 220 passengers at any given time and serve aircrafts the size of a Boeing B737 jetliner, used by Ethiopian Airlines. Today, a plane ticket from Addis-Ababa to Jimma costs approximately $200 return. (Completed in April 2014)

5. Kenyan Solar Project

The largest solar project in East Africa has been completed in Kenya, at the Williamson Tea farm in Bomet County. The solar system will cut Williamson Tea’s energy costs by around 30%, supplying clean solar electricity during the daytime to meet most of the tea processing factory’s energy demand, at a cost approximately three times lower than using an alternative diesel generated power. 

 Williamson Tea says it is now saving 1,200 tonnes of CO2 per year. Solarcentury’s solar park in Bomet is one of only six systems in the world that uses  “Solar Fuel Saver” (SFS) technology, which allows the production of power to work concurrently with a generator, creating a more steady power supply. (Completed May 2014)

6. Benguela railway, Angola

In August this year the China Railway Construction announced the completion of its second biggest railway project on the continent - a 1,344km line connecting Angola’s port towns with its inland cities, the Democratic Republic of Congo  (DRC) and Zambia. 

The Benguela railway, today comparable to the Beijing-Shanghai line, was originally built by white settlers who began work in 1903. However, following Angola’s civil war the railway ceased operation as infrastructure was destroyed. In 2005, China Railway Construction proposed a 67-station project of a designed speed of 90km per hour costing $1,83 billion. 

Bengula railway is currently the largest, longest and fastest railway to be built in Africa. (Completion August 2014)

7. Natural Gas plant, Ghana

With a power deficit of over 400 megawatts the Ghanaian capital Accra struggles to provide continuous sustainable energy to its citizens. Power cuts are commonplace and the main energy company of Ghana has even threatened to inflict 24-hour power cuts. 

A natural gas project in the coastal town of Atuabo has been built to improve this situation and secure foreign investment in the country’s capital. Ghana, West Africa’s second largest economy, has been stricken by financial woes - its currency depreciating against the dollar by more than half creating serious budget imbalances. The gas plant not only will provide the 480 - 550 megawatts of extra power, but also reduces the expensive electricity imports from abroad.

8. Akwa Ibom Football Stadium, Nigeria

The Nigerian town of Uyo received a 30,000 capacity international Akwa Ibom Football Stadium. The stadium, financed by the state government, was officially opened by President Goodluck Jonathan and his counterparts from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire on November 7, 2014. 

The two-tier structure, which uses all natural grass and high-tech floodlights and also contributes a 400m track for athletes, has been dubbed the “Nest of Champions”. With a very modern design, Akwa Ibom stadium was modeled on the Allianz Arena in Munich.

Costing an approximate $96 million the project aims to develop sports participation in Akwa Ibom state and the growing interest of Nigerian youth in football - the country’s national sport. Principally, however, the stadium is home to the national team, Nigeria’s Super Eagles. (Completed in November 2014) 

9. Jasper Power Project, South Africa 

Another solar power plant was launched this year - Africa’s biggest. The 96 MW Jasper Power Project in the Northern Cape of South Africa is now operational, generating enough power to supply 80,000 households. 

This enormous project, developed and financed by SolarReserve, Intikon Energy, and the Kensani Group, is yet another step for South Africa towards attaining a goal of 18 GW of clean energy capacity by the year 2030. The Jasper Power Project comes in particularly handy as it prevents power shortages, allowing for more stable production and thus attracting further investment - both local and international - strengthening South Africa’s already solid economic reputation. (Completion in November 2014)

10. Kilwa - Dar pipeline, Tanzania

The 530km gas pipeline, running from the coastal Mtwara region and Songo Songo in Kilwa district to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, has been all but completed this December. A few weeks ago the latest project status report indicated that only a 7km section remained to be completed. 

The pipeline will be used to produce 3,900 MW of electricity through an installed capacity of 784 MMcf/d of gas (Millions of Cubic Feet Per Day). With the estimated gas reserves of 43 trillion cubic feet valued at around $430 billion, the cost of the project is believed to be in the range of $1.3 billion. 

The pipeline is projected to decrease the costs of thermal electricity in the country from $0.34 to $0.12. The proponent of the pipeline, Wentworth Resources Limited, declared in a statement: “The project is the beginning of Tanzania’s future as a significant gas producing country and we are proud to be a partner in this endeavour.” (Completed in December 2014)

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