Incorporating Chinese standards into infrastructure projects in Africa is the key to sustainable development on the continent, said the top executive of China Communications Construction Co Ltd.
“In the globalization process, we need to introduce Chinese standards overseas and integrate them into the local projects. Localization is the prerequisite for real sustainable development,” said Sun Ziyu, president of CCCC.
CCCC is a State-owned enterprise listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that has businesses designing and building transportation infrastructure plus manufacturing dredging and other heavy machinery. It has more than 200 projects overseas, including railways, roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and harbors.
CCCC began its Africa work in the 1970s in Equatorial Guinea and Mauritania. Now it has projects in more than 50 countries in Africa, including the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway, the Addis Ababa-Adama Expressway in Ethiopia, and Kribideep Sea Port in Cameroon.
One of CCCC’s largest projects in Africa is the standard gauge railway from Mombasa, the largest port in East Africa, to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. The railway will eventually extend to neighboring countries including Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
The annual throughput of the port of Mombasa is 25 million tons.
But, the existing railway has an annual transport capacity of only 1 million metric tons because it is a narrow-gauge, one meter width, track built more than 100 years ago during British colonial rule. The rest of the goods have to be transported by road.
The Mombasa-Nairobi SGR line, which will be the standard 1.435-meter width, will allow a maximum speed of 120 kilometers per hour for passenger trains and 80 kilometers per hour for freight trains, and will have an annual capacity of 25 million tons.
The biggest infrastructure project in Kenya since independence, it will shorten passenger travel time from Mombasa to Nairobi from more than ten hours to a little more than four hours. Freight trains will complete the journey in less than eight hours.
On May 11, 2014, Kenyan and Chinese leaders signed agreements for the construction of the project, which is now about 65 percent finished. A trial run is expected in early 2017. Construction of the 472-kilometer line began in October 2013 and is scheduled to be completed by early 2018.
The Mombasa-Nairobi phase of the project is estimated to cost 327 billion Kenyan shillings ($3.8 billion).
The Export-Import Bank of China will provide 90 percent of the financing while the remaining 10 percent will be contributed by the Kenyan government.
“The construction of the railway will create 30,000 jobs for the country. It is estimated to boost the GDP growth rate of Kenya by 1.5 percentage points. More than 90 percent of the workers will be local people,” said Liu Qitao, chairman of CCCC.
“The rail line is constructed completely under Chinese technological standards. We are introducing Chinese capital and managerial expertise to the continent. It will provide faster, safer and more reliable modern transport in Kenya,” he said.
The railway circumvents wildlife habitats as much as possible. In the National Park of Nairobi and Tsavo National Park, pathways for wild animals will be built to guide the animals to cross the railway.
Culverts will also be built for animals such as zebras to get water.