Chinese construction firms expand African building projects
Chinese companies are expected to continue to dominate the construction of Africa’s power dams, highways, ports, and railways.
Last week state-owned China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) a US$166 million contract with The Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) to construct a 453km road in the Lamu Port South Sudan–Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET). This road is part of a megaproject linking Kenya with Ethiopia and South Sudan.
It was signed less than a week after Kenya announced that a new seaport being built in Manda Bay in Lamu, on the Kenyan coast, by CCCC, would start operating in June. The company had won the contract to build the first three of 32 berths of the seaport for US$480 million.
China’s biggest port operator, China Merchants Group, previously agreed on a deal with Djibouti to turn its port into a regional hub. According to its terms, China Merchants will carry out a $3bn expansion of the East African micro-states century-old port.
China's investment over the last year
Over the past few years, China has established a significant presence in building Africa’s infrastructure projects. According to a released last month by consulting firm Deloitte, China accounted for 31.4 per cent, 121 projects, of the infrastructure projects under construction in Africa last year. In East Africa, half of the construction activity was undertaken by companies from China, again making it the biggest builder in the region.
African Governments also contributed the largest value to funding projects. In value terms, the Government accounted for 34.5 per cent (US$137.7bn). Private Domestic firms contributed the second-largest value (US$73.1bn or 18.3 per cent), followed by China, which contributed US$59.2bn (14.8 per cent) towards the funding of projects.
Zhou Yuyuan, a fellow at the Centre for West Asian and African Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, how he thought the contracts Chinese companies won were mainly for construction projects, such as transport, power plants, and ports, which attracted less interest from Western companies because they were expensive to do and difficult to fund.
“Chinese companies have their comparative advantage in the speed and quality of projects implementation, which are much attractive to African countries,” Zhou said.
The vast majority of infrastructures being built in Africa are by Chinese companies, and this looks set to continue with ongoing investments and deals being made.
Hill Partnerships, Wheat Quarter revive Welwyn Garden City
Wheat Quarter and Hill Partnerships have entered into a construction agreement for the delivery of the former Shredded Wheat Factory buildings and public realm at the exciting Welwyn Garden City regeneration scheme.
The multi-million pound deal will bring about the sensitive refurbishment of Wheat Quarter’s Listed Production Hall, Listed Silos and Art Centre. Hill will also deliver the new Louis de Soissons Building and Bridge Community Building as part of a comprehensive single package deal. Welwyn Garden City is a town in Hertfordshire, approximately 20 miles from London.
Wheat Quarter Project Director, John West, said “We are delighted to have signed the construction agreement with Hill, who bring their quality, proven track record and delivery strength on board. Having created the platform for Metropolitan to be on site today delivering affordable housing on the south site, we hope to receive planning approval for our improved scheme on the north site in the coming months and start work later this year for the final phase of this landmark site.
“We have all endured a tough three years through Brexit and Covid. However after a lot of hard work, we are excited to be back to deliver this exceptional scheme with Hill as our delivery partners, who will use their skills and expertise in town centre regeneration to make the former Shredded Wheat Factory Buildings shine once again”.
Andy Hill, Chief Executive at Hill, said it was looking forward to working with Wheat Quarter to carefully restore and refurbish the iconic listed Production Hall, Silos and Art Centre and will use its "exceptional skills" in regeneration to ensure these landmark historic buildings and the new Louis de Soissons and Bridge Community Buildings, deliver excellent amenities for the benefit of the community, helping to revitalise and breathe new life into the centre of Welwyn Garden City.
Walter Cooper & Co assisted with the acquisition and disposal of land at Wheat Quarter to a range of developers. Working in conjunction with JLL, Walter Cooper has packaged the deal with Hill, which will see them build 150,000 sq ft of commercial buildings, creating hundreds of new job opportunities in the town. The Hertfordshire Mercury reports that the site could house 1,200 flats.
Towns and cities are working hard to reposition themselves in response to the pandemic and growth in online shopping.
Wigan Council has announced that Galleries25 – a joint venture partnership between Cityheart and Beijing Construction Engineering Group International – has been appointed as the Strategic Development Partner for the £130 million redevelopment of the Galleries Shopping Centre in Wigan.
Plans for the transformation of City Square in Leeds are set to take a significant step forward with the appointment of Leeds-based Re-form Landscape Architecture which will collaborate with Leeds City Council and other stakeholders on the scheme. The company’s concept for the new-look City Square is due to be fine-tuned over the course of the next year.
Startup Digital Urban is incorporating 3D digital modelling capabilities and satellite technology. It is the latest company to join the ESA Business Incubation Centre United Kingdom (ESA BIC UK) at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory, and aims to take advantage of the support available in space and satellite technologies to further its commercial development.
Turn to page 70 of our June issue to read more on urban regeneration projects.