Southern Africa: SADC to Benefit From African Infrastructure Programme

At least seven infrastructure projects in southern Africa were presented at the recent Dakar Financing Summit for implementation under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

PIDA is a blueprint for African infrastructure transformation for the period 2012-2040. The programme was adopted by African leaders in January 2012 and provides a strategic framework for priority infrastructure projects expected to transform the continent into an interconnected and integrated region.

To mobilise financial investment to accelerate PIDA implementation, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) organized the Dakar Financing Summit on 14-15 June in Senegal where a total of 16 strategic and regionally balanced projects were presented to potential donors.

Of these, seven are in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

These are the Ruzizi III Hydropower Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Dar es Salaam Port Expansion Project in the United Republic of Tanzania, the Serenge-Nakonde Road and the Lusaka-Lilongwe ICT Terrestrial Fibre Optic linking Malawi and Zambia.

The other three are the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Transmission Line linking the power grids of the three countries, the Batoka Gorge Hydropower Project involving Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the Brazzaville-Kinshasa Road Rail Bridge Project and the Kinshasa Illebo Railways in the DRC.

"The 16 projects were selected due to their strategic, political and economic importance as flagship regional projects," NEPAD said in a statement, adding that "once implemented, these projects will significantly transform the way Africa does business."

Infrastructure development is pivotal to the socio-economic growth of the continent as thriving economies depend on a reliable infrastructure base, both at the national and regional level.

All the 16 selected projects cover the three main sectors of energy, transport and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Construction of the Batoka Gorge hydropower station is expected to add 1,600 megawatts of electricity, enough to ease shortages in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Since the two countries are connected to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), which coordinates the management of electricity in the region, the proposed power station will also benefit the SADC region.

All mainland SADC Member States with the exception of Angola, Malawi and Tanzania, are interconnected through SAPP, allowing countries in the region to share surplus energy.

The Batoka project entails the construction of a 181-metre gravity dam and the installation of eight 200MW units with the power shared equally between the two countries.

The proposed Ruzizi III project in the DRC will add another 147MW, and will be a run-of-the-river hydro-electric plant with three power units.

As part of the project, a 10km 220kV transmission line to a substation located at Kamanyola in the DRC is expected to be installed, while the three plants will operate as a cascade, meaning that the same water will flow successively through the turbines of Ruzizi I, II and III.

With regard to the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Interconnector, the project is expected to improve regional integration and energy trade within and between the SAPP and East African Power Pool (EAPP).

Covering a distance of 2,206km, the interconnector will have a capacity of 400MW, and will be constructed as a double circuit 400kV line in sections from Pensulo in Zambia to Isinya in Kenya.

A 400kV line from Mbeya to Iringa in Tanzania will also be built to provide the strong path for power to be delivered to the northern load centres.

Ultimately, the interconnector is expected link Tanzania to the SAPP, meaning that Tanzania will now be able to sell and buy electricity from the participating utilities in the region.

The refurbishment of the Dar es Salaam Port will include deepening and strengthening the berth for deep sea vessels, and increasing the capacity to handle bigger vessels.

Once completed, the port would allow Tanzania and regional countries to earn as much as US$2.6 billion per year from traffic at the port.

The Dar es Salaam port is the second most important gateway for regional trade in east Africa after Mombasa, catering to 90 percent of Tanzania's international trade and a significant part of trans-shipment trade for Zambia, Malawi, DRC and Uganda.

Rehabilitation of the Serenge-Nakonde Road will involve widening of the road, and its improvement will contribute to cost reduction for road transportation along the North-South and Dar es Salaam Corridors, as well as reduce accident losses for the transport of passengers and goods.

Ultimately, it is expected to improve the competitiveness of business in the eight countries that share the North-South Corridor - Botswana, DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Project completion is expected by 2017.

With regard to the Lusaka-Lilongwe ICT Terrestrial Fibre Optic, the project aims to facilitate interconnection between Malawi and Zambia.

The Brazzaville Kinshasa Road Rail Bridge Project and the Kinshasa Illebo Railways in DRC will include a combined road, rail and rail-bridge as well as a one-stop border post.

The railway line will be connected with the Lumbumbashi-Ilebo line. This will create a railway link between central and southern Africa across the DRC.

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