Resource-hungry Chinese lead railroad drive in Africa

MOMBASA, Kenya, Dec. 4 (UPI) — The Chinese, investing heavily in Africa to secure its oil and other raw materials for their expanding economy, are spearheading a new era of railroad building to unlock the continent’s interior.This is an echo of the long-gone colonial empires when a century ago British and French engineers first opened up Africa to plunder its riches.

The railroad frenzy is being accompanied by a massive push to build several major ports along the coast of East Africa to accelerate exports across the Indian Ocean, mostly to China, India and Japan, as well as lay down a network of oil and gas pipelines to these ports.

Kenya, which has found oil, is a key link in all this because it lies on the Indian Ocean. There are plans to build a huge deepwater port at Lamu which would act as a rail and pipeline hub for regional exports.

Further north, landlocked Ethiopia is another. It has no ports, but it has long been a pivotal economic player in the region, funneling goods from inland Africa to the continent’s ports through its rail lines.

Extending that network would stimulate economic activity further inland and export trade via the Red Sea port of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.

In Tanzania, which with neighboring Mozambique is on the cusp of a major offshore gas boom, the main port of Dar es Salaam, the capital, could greatly enhance its importance as the main export center for copper and cobalt from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Congo’s mineral-rich, and war-ravaged, Katanga province produces 580,000 metric tons of copper a year and about 60,000 metric tons of cobalt. Zambia produces 6750,000 tons of copper annually.

The Chinese have been making massive investments in Africa over the last decade in return for access to the continent’s mineral riches.

The recent oil and gas discoveries in East Africa, ideally located for direct shipment eastward across the Indian Ocean, and the prospect of more to come have accelerated Chinese investment in streamlining transportation systems to the planned megaports.

There are now almost 1 million Chinese living in Africa. A decade ago, there only a few thousand.

Another major project is rehabilitating the rail link between Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, and the port of Djibouti, a tiny former colony of France on the Red Sea, which links the Mediterranean with the Indian Ocean.

Full article: Resource-hungry Chinese lead railroad drive in Africa (UPI)

port of Dar es Salaam

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