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CNN’s Connecting Africa Explores Infrastructure Projects Across The Continent

By: HighCelebritySquard


In the latest episode of Connecting Africa, CNN International’s Eleni Giokos and new reporter Victoria Rubadiri highlight the infrastructure projects aiming to boost interconnectivity and trade by air, land, and sea.

Africa is home to about 84,000 km of railways and more than 60 seaports, yet at least 80% of goods are being transported via roadways often sparse in remote areas or in poor condition.

In Kenya, Rubadiri sees how the country is investing in its train network to increase the transport volume of rail cargo. In operation since 2017, Kenya’s standard gauge railway system (SGR) is transforming the way goods are being moved throughout the country and region. Thomas Ojijo, Head of Operations at the Inland Container Depot says, “Conventional cargo will include steel. We are doing a lot on fertiliser, which is being distributed to various parts of the country. Currently we have about 30,000 tons that we’re moving.”

The SGR is one of the largest infrastructure projects being undertaken in east Africa. The current line runs from Mombasa Port to Nairobi and onto Naivasha Inland Container Port. There are plans to extend the line into Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and beyond. Philip Mainga, Managing Director of the Kenya Railways Corporation, says that rail is an increasingly effective way to carry large volumes of heavy goods over long distances, “We used to take over 12 to 24 hours to be in Nairobi. Now we are taking eight hours.” He continues, “The most important thing is the weight that these wagons can carry. This saves the Kenyan roads.”

For the first time, wagons that are capable of carrying refrigerated containers are also being added to the network. Leonard Githinji, Head of Business Development at Syokimau ICD Ltd. talks about the benefits this will bring, “With the introduction of the refrigerated wagon by Kenya Railways, what will happen is the cost of doing business will go down, it’ll lower the cost of insurance premium. The containers’ premium is quite high because you never know what will happen on the road. On rail, you have got, I would say, 99% sure bet that you’re going to get to the port with no problem at all.”

In Nigeria, Giokos visits one of the country’s most important infrastructure projects the Dangote plant in Obajana. The Dangote Group is the largest producer of cement and is working to keep production within the continent and reduce dependency on imports. Aliko Dangote, Founder, President and CEO of the Dangote Group speaks about changing the country from a net importer of cement, “We invested our money, we risked our capital, and we made the country not only self-sufficient, today it is history.”

Adenike Fajemirokun, Dangote Group Executive Director, speaks about how the company is using the African Continental Free Trade Area, “We’re a rapidly growing population. Cement is a stable and a fundamental for the growth of infrastructure, the growth of construction. The AfCFTA, the intertrade, a lot of that is around cement as well. We export a lot of our clinker, for example, which tells you the need across the continent.”

While the Obajana cement plant is helping Africa to industrialise, the continent also needs to prioritise sustainability and reduce carbon emissions, something Dangote is conscious of. He tells Giokos, “In the cement, we have more than 2,119 trucks of ours that are on biofuel. By 2030, the target of Dangote cement is that 40% of our cement production will be by alternative fuel.”

Dangote continues, “We’ve been thinking about it a long time. We created what you call GCCA, Global Cement and Concrete Association, and we have set goals and targets to bring this CO2 emission down.”

The show also explores how the Maputo Port in Mozambique is part of a development corridor connecting landlocked South African provinces to the sea and how Morocco is creating an economic trading hub for West Africa.

‘Connecting Africa’ airs on CNN International at the following times:

Saturday 11th May 2024 at 0730 SAST

Sunday 12th May 2024 at 0330 SAST and 1930 SAST

Monday 13th May 2024 at 0730 SAST.

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