ODI: Africa ‘more flex­i­ble’ but also ‘more chal­leng­ing’

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

plans to build an­other ce­ment fac­tory in aWest African coun­try over the next three years. It al­ready has a ce­ment plant in Ethiopia, and it has de­liv­ered mine load­ers to Tan­za­nia and con­crete and power plant equip­ment­toAn­go­laover past eight years.

NHI Pres­i­dent Geng Hongchen said that African mar­kets are “more flex­i­ble” when it comes to busi­ness prac­tices and in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment com­pared with South­east Asia or Latin Amer­ica.

“Chi­nese ser­vice and in­fra­struc­ture com­pa­nies usu­ally need to spend time de­ter­min­ing what kind of build­ing ma­te­ri­als or heavy ma­chin­ery African gov­ern­ments ur­gently need, or which in­dus­try to treat as a pri­or­ity. Then it’s easy to com­plete the pa­per­work and get down to busi­ness,” saidGeng.

Res­trained by weak in­dus­trial and lo­gis­tics foun­da­tions in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, many African and for­eign con­struc­tion con­trac­tors have to cope with lo­cal ce­ment that costs too much and is of­ten in short sup­ply. That makes it hard to com­plete projects on time. De­lays caused by sub- stan­dard port fa­cil­i­ties and bu­reau­cracy, and de­layed ship­ments from Asia, Europe and North Africa, make­mat­ters worse.

“It ap­pears we have found a new growtharea in Africa’sce­mentin­dus­try, and in­vest­ing in this sec­tor will be one of our fo­cuses this decade,” saidGeng.

The com­pany be­gan build­ing a ce­ment plant in 2013 for Habe­sha Ce­ment Share Co, an Ethiopian gov­ern­ment-owned com­pany, at a site west of the cap­i­tal of Ad­dis Ababa.

NHI helped train more than 310 lo­cal work­ers to man­age, op­er­ate and main­tain the plant. There are now 450 work­ers on site, of whom 70 are Chi­nese, and an­nual pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity is ex­pected to reach 1.4 mil­lion­metric­tons­bytheendof thisyear. NHI now has sales and man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties in 13 coun­tries in Africa.

CCDI Group, a Bei­jing-based ar­chi­tec­tural firm, worked on the de­sign of the venues for the All-Africa Games in Braz­zav­ille, the cap­i­tal of the Repub­lic of Congo, which are to be held in Septem­ber.

The games are much big­ger than in 1965, when the coun­try hosted 30 na­tions and 2,500 ath­letes at what were then Games.

The project, which in­cludes a 62,000-seat sta­dium and fa­cil­i­ties such as out­door venues and sur­round­ing roads in the north­ern out­skirts of Braz­zav­ille, is val­ued at $441 mil­lion.




Wang Ji­ayi, the project’s field man­ager, said that project de­sign in Africa is more chal­leng­ing than in China.

Tak­ing a week­end off has be­come a lux­ury for theteam’s ar­chi­tect­sand en­gi­neers be­cause of the heavy work­load, and they work un­der a to­tally dif­fer­ent sys­tem of con­struc­tion stan­dards.

“Our team can­not ap­ply Chi­nese stan­dards to build sta­di­ums here. Every de­tail needs to be run by our Con­golese clients and their French su­per­vi­sion com­pany, the project’s third party in­vited by the Con­golese gov­ern­ment,” saidWang.

De­spite the chal­lenges, the Chi­nese com­pany aims to in­vest more in Africa to turn the con­ti­nent into its big­gest mar­ket over the next decade.

The games project is CCDI’s first in Africa, andqual­i­tyis es­sen­tial inanew mar­ket where price is still a sen­si­tive is­sue. Wang said the com­pany aims to win more bids in Al­ge­ria, Cameroon and South Africa, as it be­lieves that its lo­cal sales and tech­nol­ogy sup­port net­works, com­pet­i­tive prices and tech­nol­ogy will help it gain con­tracts.

Com­pa­nieswill­need­helpfromthe Chi­nese gov­ern­ment.

“The gov­ern­ment will move faster to build a sys­tem for pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial ser­vices for out­ward in­vest­ment, ex­pand­ing the chan­nels for us­ing for­eign ex­change re­serves and pro­vid­ing bet­ter fi­nan­cial, in­for­ma­tion and le­gal ser­vices as well as con­sular pro­tec­tion for Chi­nese en­ter­prises in­vest­ing over­seas,” said Shen Danyang, spokesman for theMin­istry of Com­merce. Con­tact the writer at zhong­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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