Economic growth in the Africa region remains high, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), which has some of the fastest growing economies in the world.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and African Development Bank (AfDB) have both predicted that Africa’s overall growth will improve in 2019 and 2020. However, the region’s growth prospects continue to be constrained by a lack of infrastructure to support the expansion in trade, both within the region and externally.
Closing the infrastructure quantity and quality gap relative to the best performers in the world could increase growth of GDP per capita by 2.6% per year. Potential growth benefits would come from closing the gap in the transport sector.
Tracking 448 large-scale transport projects (road, rail and bridges) across Africa at all stages of development from announcement to execution with a total investment value of US$430.3 billion.
Nigeria, with 49 projects, has the highest number of transport projects in the project pipeline, amounting to US$48.3 billion, while Egypt, with 20 transport projects, has the highest value in the pipeline, amounting to US$52.9 billion, followed by Algeria (30 projects valued at US$37.9 billion), Kenya (27 projects valued at US$31.8 billion), Tunisia (nine projects valued at US$21.2 billion) and Tanzania (20 projects valued at US$16.7 billion).
Investment rates in transport infrastructure have been increasing, thanks to major continental initiatives such as Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) for mobilizing resources to transform Africa through modern infrastructure.
When completed in their entirety, the tracked projects will total over 110,000km in length (54,110km for roads, 55,345km for railway and 599km for bridges) of which 75,297km will be newly constructed, 29,197km will be upgraded and 5,561km will have an element of both construction and upgrade, criss-crossing the African continent.
Across the region, governments have paved the way for public private partnerships (PPPs) to fund a large proportion of projects in the pipeline. In total, 52.4% of the total project pipeline by value is being publicly driven by African governments allocating funds for constructing new roads and repairing existing ones, whereas 33.3% of the total project pipeline is funded by various joint financing arrangements between the public and private sector.
China has made numerous investments across Africa to support its need for resources becoming a major financier of key transport projects in the region. At least five African countries have had their railway systems funded by China: Kenya, Ethiopia, Angola, Djibouti and Nigeria.
Based on the pipeline of projects tracked, Chinese contractors are involved in road and railway projects that account for 21.3% of the overall project pipeline value. Other main foreign contractors are headquartered in France (accounting for 17.7%), Turkey (accounting for 8.2%) and the UK (accounting for 3.4%).
Through various subsidiaries, the China Railway Construction Corporation Ltd holds a leading position in terms of Chinese involvement in the project pipeline. In total, the company has been or remains involved in projects that have a total construction value of close to US$47.3 billion; it is followed by Power Construction Corporation of China (US$12.18 billion) and China Communications Construction Corporation (US$9.4 billion).
The March 2018 agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area is a game changer in the continent’s ambition to boost intra-African trade and spur economic development. On May 30th, 2019, 22 African countries ratified the agreement, with Nigeria – Africa’s largest and most populous economy – close to signing the agreement. This landmark agreement embraces more than a billion people and a collective GDP of over US$2 trillion, and includes most of Africa’s largest economies, including South Africa and Egypt.
Future freight transport demand in Africa is tied to growth in international trade, which is expected to grow sevenfold to 3.6 billion metric tons over the next 30 years, as countries increase the value added of their exports through processing, consumers with rising incomes import more expensive goods, and manufacturing and mining businesses import more expensive processing equipment.
With this emphasis on regional integration, African governments continue to think beyond development within border lines. This has placed the focus on the development of regional economic corridors, interlinking highways, railways and ports in the region, hence providing connectivity between international, national and rural networks.
Tracking nine major corridors with 26 roads and railways that are being proposed or are underway with a combined value of US$93.1 billion have a variety of proponents, including national governments, donors and private lenders.
Source Research and markets