Africa Urged to Follow Kenya’s Example

African infrastructure projects receive global recognition

The development of sustainable urban infrastructure is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century.  As such, KPMG’s Global Infrastructure Practice is pleased to announce that six remarkable African infrastructure projects were chosen as one of the 100 most innovative and inspiring urban infrastructure projects in the world.

The six projects were the BRICS Cable Project in South Africa and Mauritius, the Djibouti Railway in Ethiopia, the Lagos Metro Blue Line in Nigeria, the Durban Waste to Energy Project in South Africa, the Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital in Lesotho, and the O3b Networks project being rolled out across the whole continent.

Profiles of all six projects are now featured in the much-anticipated second edition of the Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition, which was recently released at the World Cities Summit in Singapore.  This edition provides insight into the infrastructure projects that make great cities, with a particular focus on the innovations that make them ‘Cities of the Future’ – places where people want to live and do business.

Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition Top 100 Projects

This is a very proud achievement for the African continent. These projects show that Africa’s time truly has come, and that many of the challenges investors have traditionally associated with the continent are being dealt with. Even more importantly, the challenges are being addressed in cutting edge, innovative ways.

The projects showcased in the Infrastructure 100 are made up of approximately 20 projects selected by judging panels of industry experts from five regions of the world, namely Asia Pacific, North America, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East and Africa. Projects were then sorted into 10 project categories, including: Urban Mobility, Global Connectivity, Urban Regeneration, Education, Healthcare, Water, New and Extended Cities, Recycling and Waste Management, Urban Energy Infrastructure, and Communications Infrastructure.

Five regional judging panels assessed hundreds of submissions on the following criteria: feasibility, social impact, technical and/or financial complexity, innovation, and impact on society.

Communications Infrastructure

Africa’s projects shone in several categories. The BRICS Cable Project, which was also named the overall most innovative project in the Communications Infrastructure category, is a hugely ambitious initiative designed to boost international communication between cities and global access to high-speed internet. As the acronym suggests, this initiative aims to connect the BRICS markets with a 34,000 km, two-fibre pair submarine cable, thus removing BRICS countries’ reliance on telecommunications hubs in the US and Europe. With enhanced internet connectivity, the cable would boost trade links and economic competitiveness.

Another contender in the Communications Infrastructure category is O3b Networks, a continent-wide project that has financed and is currently deploying a US$1 billion, next-generation satellite network that combines the reach of satellite with the speed of fibre – providing an internet backbone for people in Africa and other emerging markets with limited access to broadband. The judges were impressed with the scope of the project, which aims to connect several billion users in 177 different countries.

Recycling and Waste Management

South Africa’s Durban Waste to Energy Project was named in the Recycling and Waste Management category. It is a model for the continent, as it converts methane gas derived from household waste into electricity. Energy is transferred through the city’s existing grid, and supplies roughly 5,000 to 6,000 low-income households per day. It will generate money for Durban through the sale of electricity and carbon credits.

Urban Mobility

In the Urban Mobility category, the Blue Line of the Lagos Rail network and Ethiopia’s Djibouti Railway gained recognition. The Lagos Metro Blue Line is a groundbreaking public-private partnership (PPP) that not only fills a serious gap in transportation infrastructure in the city, but also displays innovation in its financing structure. Track and station infrastructure is being constructed under design-build contracts funded by the Lagos state government while Eko Rail will provide trains, control systems and fare collection under a 25-year equip-operate-maintain concession.

The Ethiopia Djibouti Railway is part of Ethiopia’s ambitious plans to develop a national railway infrastructure and is notable for its sheer scale and the significant positive impact that it could have on economic growth in the Horn of Africa. The 656 km line will connect Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, with the tiny Red Sea state of Djibouti. The US$1.2 billion project would have huge economic significance for landlocked Ethiopia, considerably reducing goods transportation costs, as Djibouti represents the country’s only seaport access.


The last of the six African projects to be recognised in KPMG’s Infrastructure 100 report is in the Healthcare category – Lesotho’s Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital. This US$120 million project is a landmark endeavour in Sub-Saharan Africa. The hospital was built to replace the deteriorating 450-bed Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in the capital city, Maseru. Another torchbearer for PPPs, the scheme promises to transform healthcare services. It will be the country’s main public hospital with 390 beds, as well as clinical and non-clinical services, supporting two million people.

View a complete list of the 100 projects online at

David Okwara

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