When I first stepped into the Private Projects Department, I had a vague idea of what to expect from Africa.
Desert Rose International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Namibia (it’s just a desert there, right?)
and a whole brand New City to be built in Egypt (another desert??)
These are some of the developments that spring to mind…developments that take your breath away…but how on earth are these small, money hungry countries going to fund, let alone develop these ambitious projects? Projects so ambitious they raise eyebrows…well, mine mostly.
For example . Zimbabwe wanting to build a Disney Land at Victoria Falls…a pipe dream at the moment, but what a dream!! Just to keep tourists there longer than a day or two.
African Development Bank is one way, but most of the investments are coming from China.
The Chinese footprint in Africa has been cemented. In the last decade, investment in Africa by the world’s second-largest economy has surged to $2.9 billion from $75 million, and with it China’s influence can be seen everywhere.
The next question… who is going to build these huge developments?
China of course.! If a Chinese company has invested in a Project, you can be sure that they will be building it too. Build, Own, Operate. But there are benefits, the Chinese do subcontract some of the work to the locals.
Swaziland, however, in an effort to ensure that their local contractors still have work and can tender for contracts, have implemented the rule that any projects less than E120 million cannot be awarded to foreign companies.
So, what has this have to do with developing Africa? Just feeding Africa does not solve anything. Providing them with employment that doesn’t warrant anything more than maybe digging a hole in the ground, painting a room, something that doesn’t require much skill, but providing these people with employment, a sense of self, educating them. Providing them with purpose. A trade. Hope. To me, that is really developing Africa.
When I used to imagine Africa, I used to think of trees, rivers, wildlife, war, jungles and deep dark Africa … nothing much could be happening there right?
How wrong was I !?!