Central Africa has been making big moves when it comes to development of their infrastructure. This month, President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo invited African leaders to the first ever BUILD Africa forum in Brazzaville. BUILD is a project that aims to develop Africa’s infrastructure through multinational cooperation with public and private financial institutions. And already, new infrastructural projects have begun.
The Republic of the Congo and its neighbor Gabon have signed an agreement—or a memorandum of understanding if one wishes to get technical—to establish an interconnection between their fiber optic networks: CAB3, the Congo’s, and CAB4, Gabon’s. The Congolese Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Thierry Moungalla and Gabon’s Minister of Digital Economy, Communication and Posts Ngoua Deme Pastor signed the agreement amid the BUILD Africa summit. Communication is an integral part of a developed infrastructure as well as a thriving economy. Central Africa is covered in a wide range of terrains that have historically made internal communications very difficult. The laying down of fiber optic lines will bring Central Africa out of this communications hole.
For funding, the proposed project will work with the World Bank’s Central African Backbone program. Both nations possess substantial oil wealth, which is now being put to effective use in building a strong infrastructure. The Republic of the Congo especially has been on a concerted drive towards a fully developed, modern national infrastructure. Much of their effort has been aided by Chinese economic cooperation. For instance, in 2011, China helped in construction of the Imboulou hydroelectric dam for the Congo, thereby substantially reducing the country’s dependence on importing electricity from their neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With the completion of the Imboulou hydroelectric station, the Republic of the Congo has gone on to build seven high-voltage power stations of 220 kilovolts and 110 kilovolts in Djiri, Ngo, Gamboma, Oyo, Boundji, Owando and Djambala. They have also established an underground line of 220 kilovolts in Tsilampo and nine aerial lines of 30 KV, running some 242 kilometers in length.
The Congo-Gabon agreement is just one of many infrastructural projects to come. There is a great degree of optimism in the wake of the BUILD summit. The economic meeting in Brazzaville drew an impressive number of attendees—2,849 participants from 49 countries. Everyone knows that there is great potential in Africa for developing an economic powerhouse. There are, of course, some obstacles to overcome. One is bringing peace to the troubled Central African Republic. Another is accumulating the funds. It is estimated that Africa needs around $93 billion per year for effective infrastructural development, yet could only mobilize $45 billion of that total. Still, with the sheer amount of parties that have attended the BUILD summit, it is almost certain that African nations will be able to find investors willing to commit to infrastructural projects.