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Friend of Africa cements close bonds with giant projects

By Song Mengxing | China Daily Africa | Updated: 2018-08-31 09:01

An old friend of Africa - Power Construction Corp of China - has its footprint in more than 50 countries in the region and has built several landmark projects that have substantially benefited local people, according to executives of the company.

A notable project is one of Africa's longest dams, the Merowe hydropower station in Sudan. Others include one of Africa's highest dams, the Tekeze hydropower station in Ethiopia, and one of the continent's biggest wind power projects - the Adama wind farm, also in Ethiopia.

The 9.7-kilometer-long and 65-meter-tall Merowe Dam was built on the Nile River, about 350 km north of Sudan's capital, Khartoum. It mainly generates electricity, but also irrigates the surrounding land. The contract for the project, which began construction in July 2003, was worth a total of 607 million euros ($708.61 million).

 Friend of Africa cements close bonds with giant projects

Zambian President Edgar Lungu (center) inspects the Kafue Gorge Lower hydroelectric project built by PowerChina.

 Friend of Africa cements close bonds with giant projects

Joseph Kabila (center), president of Democratic Republic of the Congo, attends completion ceremony of a hydropower station built by PowerChina. Photos Provided to China Daily

The dam started operating in March 2009, solving 60 percent of the country's electric power supply needs and providing water to more than 4 million residents.

The project helped introduce Chinese products, technologies, labor services and facilities which comprised 60 percent of the total contract value.

China signed a memorandum of understanding with the African Union - the regional bloc representing 55 member states - in 2015 to work on major infrastructure networks and industrialization projects in the continent.

Power Construction Corp of China, also known as PowerChina, has undertaken construction of main roads and expressways in 22 countries and participated in the construction of 19 airports in nine countries.

PowerChina is currently working on 844 project contracts worth about 239.2 billion yuan ($35.1 billion) in 46 African countries.

To meet the different demands of African countries, the company has innovated and experimented with various business models. It signed a large mixed-loan project, the Bui hydropower station in Ghana, in 2007.

PowerChina has also modified various participation models in African projects to integrate into local economic and social development. In 2003, the company signed a package of memorandums of cooperation with the Zambian government and later spent 14 years working on the construction of 10 projects. The company said this has become a leading example of mutual cooperation between Chinese enterprises and African governments.

Company officials said that promoting people-to-people exchanges is also a priority of PowerChina's overseas development. It has organized training to increase the numbers of hydraulic engineering and electrical power technicians in Africa and trained some 440 governmental officials in many countries.

The company also said it has emphasized recruiting local people during its international expansion and in recent years has annually employed about 70,000 non-Chinese people globally.

Friend of Africa cements close bonds with giant projects

The Soubre hydroelectric power station built by PowerChina in Cote d'Ivoire created nearly 3,000 jobs. Since 2008 the company has subsidized 60 students from Angola to study civil engineering and electrical engineering and automation in China.

In Zambia it built a school to train local workers as technicians, during the construction of a hydropower station. Several hundred local laborers hired for the project were trained. The school was later transferred to local proprietors at no charge after the project was completed, helping to boost the country's high-skilled workforce still further.

PowerChina executives said their company is also actively integrating itself into the Belt and Road Initiative. They add that participation is not the only goal, but the initiative also represents an important opportunity for boosting its international development.

In addition, the company has actively joined in energy cooperation moves related to the initiative, including energy planning for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and planning between China and four Southeast Asian countries for cooperation in electricity supplies.

Among 14 priority projects for the corridor, PowerChina has three. These have all begun construction and are progressing well, company executives said, including a coal-fired power plant and a wind power investment project.

PowerChina has completed 38 planning research reports on energy, power and infrastructure in 45 countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.