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Old April 15th, 2008, 11:37 PM   #101
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Gautrain Rapid Rail Link

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inertia View Post
CONSTRUCTION UPDATE - 31 MARCH 2008

A) SOUTHERN SECTION

1. Underground section

PARK STATION
Excavation of the single-track rail tunnel towards the north has reached approximately 280 metres from the tunnel portal.

Construction of the 25m deep station box is making good progress. Lateral support waler beams are currently being installed in tandem with bulk excavation. These waler beams, braced with a series of lateral struts, provide temporary support the perimeter walls during station box excavation. Construction of the multi-story parkade foundation has also started.







The 27 metre deep portal provides an access shaft to tunnelling activities below. A massive gantry crane is visible above the portal. This crane is used to hoist the rock excavated from the tunnel and load it into dump trucks. The crane will also lift the necessary construction equipment in and out of the portal below.

EMERGENCY SHAFT 1 (HILLBROW)
The single-track rail tunnel between Park Station and Sandton Station will feature seven emergency access shafts. These shafts will provide emergency services personnel access to the tunnels below. At the bases of these shafts there will be safe havens where passengers can gather in case of an emergency.

The Land required for Emergency Shaft 1 in Hillbrow is in the process of being expropriated. Site establishment and shaft excavation will start soon.

EMERGENCY SHAFT 2 (THE WILDS, HOUGHTON)







At Shaft E2, excavation depth reached nearly 38 metres and 27 metres of shaft lining was completed. Once the shaft reaches its final depth, an adit linking the bottom of the shaft to the tunnel alignment will be excavated, from where two rail tunnel sections will be excavated. The one tunnel will head south towards Park Station, while the other tunnel will head north towards Rosebank Station.

EMERGENCY SHAFT 4 (HOUGHTON)
Construction of the shaft collar has been completed and shaft excavation will commence in early April.

ROSEBANK STATION
Automated tunnel excavation is now underway deep below Oxford Road. The giant Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) started boring in January.







This moving factory uses latest international technology to bore a 3km section of the tunnel from Rosebank Station southwards. The TBM has been purpose-built to deal with the difficult geological conditions along this section of the route. The remainder of the single-track rail tunnel towards Park Station will be excavated using conventional drilling and blasting methods.

The TBM, named Imbokodo, installs pre-cast concrete tunnel lining segments behind it as it moves forward. It leaves behind a watertight and smooth lining to the 6.8m diameter tunnel. The TBM has already installed approximately 211 tunnel lining segments which equates to a distance of almost 325 metres of tunnel bored.







With excavation of the 180 metre long, 25 metre deep station box complete, as well as the station base slab, excavation of the last part of northern cut & cover section continued. Construction of the station external walls within the station box has commenced.

North of the station box, tunnelling towards Sandton continued from the northern drill & blast shaft, with approximately 195 metres excavated by the end of March.

EMERGENCY SHAFT 5 (DUNKELD, ROSEBANK)
Tunnelling towards Sandton – the only section of tunnelling being excavated from this shaft - has progressed to approximately 240 metres. Excavation of the safe haven chamber is progressing simultaneously.

A head house structure is visible above the shaft, which houses the overhead gantry crane. It is used for hoisting excavated rock and lowering and lifting materials and equipment. The crane is clad with sound absorbing panels to limit noise created by construction work. This is a temporary structure, which will be removed once tunnelling operations are completed.

SANDTON STATION
Excavation of the three level parking basement is complete and construction of the parkade foundations has commenced.







Construction of the cavern for the underground station, which is being excavated via the southern construction shaft, is on track and tunnelling from the south shaft towards Rosebank is also making good progress. The “top headings” of both of these have reached approximately 40 metres in each direction.

Excavation of the north shaft reached the third waler beam level, where hard rock has now been encountered. Waler beam and strut installation continued. These waler beams, braced with a series of lateral struts, provide temporary support the perimeter walls during excavation.

MUSHROOM FARM PARK
Two sets of tunnels are being excavated towards Sandton. These single and double track tunnels have reached 472 metres and 232 metres respectively. The double tunnel towards Marlboro Portal reached approximately 510 metres. Later this year, the tunnel being excavated from Mushroom Farm Park will meet with the tunnel being excavated from Marlboro Portal to form one, continuous tunnel.







Mushroom Farm Park is a temporary shaft, used to provide access for tunnel construction. The community park will be fully reinstated once construction operations are complete.

MARLBORO PORTAL
Excavation of the double track tunnel towards Mushroom Farm Park is now approaching
1 700 metres from the portal. Inside the tunnel, the final lining is being applied to the tunnel walls, construction of the floor slab to support the railway tracks is in progress, concrete walkways are being installed and construction of the dividing wall – separating the two sets of tracks – is about to commence.

The portal at Marlboro is the point where the tunnel “daylights”. It seperates the underground and surface sections of the route.

2. Surface alignment

MARLBORO STATION AND N3 UNDERPASS
A continuous long-span elevated rail bridge is called a viaduct. Several viaducts are being built to cross rivers and roads on Gautrain’s route. The precast concrete deck segments for these viaducts are being manufactured at the precast yard.

Construction of support piers and northern abutments for Viaducts 1A and 11 over the Jukskei River and East Bank Road in Alexander are complete and work is in progress on the southern abutments. Deck erection will commence during the first half of this year.

Earthworks, retaining walls and associated drainage structures are in progress between the Marlboro Portal and the N3 Crossing, including in the area of the Marlboro Station, where station construction will commence later this year.

Construction of a series of underpasses, where the two pairs of railway lines cross below the N3 highway alongside the Marlboro Road bridge, continues.







B) NORTHERN SECTION (Depot to Hatfield Station)

DEPOT, PRECAST YARD AND RAIL WELDING FACILITY
Construction of this section of the route between the N3 crossing and the Depot is well advanced, with erection of the precast M-beams, which form the deck of Viaduct 2 over Modderfontein Spruit, now complete.

At the Train Depot, Gautrain’s 24 train sets will be maintained, serviced cleaned, and securely stabled overnight. The adjacent Bus Depot will perform a similar function for Gautrain’s dedicated fleet of 150 luxury buses. Construction of these facillities is well advanced, with the Bus Depot administration building already complete and the Train Depot offices and maintenance workshops targeted for completion within the next few months.







The welding of rails into 216 metre long lengths has commenced at the temporary flash butt welding yard that has been set up adjacent to the Train Depot. This facility uses high tech rail welding methods which eliminate the need for jointed gaps between rail lengths. The laying of trackwork for the stabling sidings at the train depot will commence shortly.

The precast yard – also temporarily located at the Depot - is equipped with twin concrete batching plants and several overhead gantries and tower cranes that are required to manufacture a variety of precast concrete elements. These include viaduct segments, bridge beams and parapets, tunnel walkway sections and noise barriers.. From here, precast elements are transported to the various construction sites as needed. It is currently the largest precast facility in Africa.

MIDRAND AREA
Construction is now well underway in the vicinity of the Midrand Station and continuing towards Centurion.

A continuous long-span elevated rail bridge is called a viaduct. Construction of Viaduct 3 over Allandale Road is making good progress, with ten of the thirteen deck spans now erected. Deck segments are erected using massive purpose-built launching girders.
These cranes are launched across the supporting piers to rapidly assemble the precast deck segments. Segments are then glued and stressed together to form the deck spans. This international bridge deck assembly method enables construction to proceed with minimal disruption to existing infrastructure and traffic below. There are two of these underslung launching girders deployed on the project.







At Viaduct 4, which crosses over Rietspruit and Olifantsfontein Road South, the foundations are now complete and construction of the supporting piers and abutments is in progress.

Construction of a number of smaller road-over-rail bridges in this area continues, including at Ridge Road, West Road, New Road and George Road.

CENTURION AREA
Viaduct 5 carries the elevated alignment through Centurion. It stretches over the John Vorster Interchange crossing the N1 in the south and then continues through Centurion to the Jean Avenue Interchange crossing the Ben Schoeman highway in the north. The sinking of deep foundation shafts for the viaducts at both of these interchanges continues, and construction of the supporting piers has commenced at the Jean Avenue Viaduct.







Several temporary steel pedestrian bridges have been erected over the N14 highway at the Jean Avenue interchange and across the N1 at John Vorster interchange to provide construction workers safe access across these busy highways.

Within Centurion itself, foundation construction – comprising excavation, preloading, grouting and piling – is underway at many of the viaduct pier locations, including those which will support the elevated platforms of Centurion Station. This station will be situated on the northern side of West Steet close to Centurion Lake. Utility diversions throughout the Centurion area are ongoing.

TSHWANE AREA
Construction of an underpass where the Gautrain rail track will cross underneath the Ben Schoeman to the south of Salvokop is in progress.







Preparations are underway to start with foundation construction of Viaduct 7, which will cross over Nelson Mandela Boulevard at the entrance to the city.

At Pretoria Station, the existing staff parking area has now been vacated to enable construction of the Gautrain Station to proceed.

HATFIELD AREA
Between Pretoria and Hatfield a number of bridges crossing the existing railway line require to be widened to accommodate the adjacent Gautrain tracks. One such bridge is at Lynnwood Road, where widening of the abutments is currently underway.

Piling and foundation construction is in progress for a new bridge which will cross the railway lines at Ridge Road, to replace the existing Willow Road bridge, which is to be demolished. Work has also started on a further new bridge where Grosvenor Road will be extended across the tracks immediately adjacent to the new Hatfield Station.







Bulk excavation for the parkade structure at the Hatfield Station and the diversion of the Metrorail alignment in that area is substantially complete. Foundation construction and concrete works will commence shortly.

C) EAST-WEST AIRPORT LINK

3. Airport Link (Marlboro Station to OR Tambo International Airport)

At Viaduct 13 over Centenary Way in Modderfontein, seven of the ten spans have now been erected, with traffic flow continuing below without disruption.

A short distance to the east, foundation construction has commenced at Viaduct 14, which will span over Zuurfontein Road and the adjacent existing railway line.







Several other bridges and culverts are also currently being built along this section of the route.

OR TAMBO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT STATION
By far the longest viaduct on the east-west section of the route is the 1.5 km long Viaduct 15, which will carry the double track railway line over the R21/R24 road network to the elevated OR Tambo International Airport Station. The majority of the 41 foundations have been completed and construction of the supporting piers is well advanced.







Construction of the station concourse is in progress and is visible above the elevated drop-off road. This is immediately adjacent to the new Central Terminal Building which is currently under construction at the airport.

D) OVERALL PROGRESS
Construction started at the end of September 2006. Gautrain will be completed in two phases:

1. The first phase has a duration of 45 months. It includes the network between the OR Tambo International Airport and Sandton and includes the stations at OR Tambo, Rhodesfield, Marlboro and Sandton, together with the Depot and Operations Control Centre located near Allandale Road in Midrand.
2. The second phase, being constructed concurrently, will be completed in 54 months, towards 2011. It includes the remainder of the rail network and stations linking Sandton to Park Station in Johannesburg and the route from Midrand to Hatfield.

Toll-free call centre: 0800-GAUTRAIN (0800-42887246). The call centre is operational weekdays between 6am and 9pm with an answering system after-hours.

Communities are reminded that regular Community Liaison Forums are held in affected areas. These afford residents the opportunity to voice their concerns and have their questions answered by Gautrain officials who are present at these meetings.

Courtesy www.gautrain.co.za
This is in South Africa if you didn't catch the drift
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 03:01 PM   #102
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East Africa gets $1.5 billion for infrastructure

NAIROBI, April 22 (Reuters) - The African Development Bank (AfDB) will give $1.5 billion to five countries in east Africa to improve roads, bridges and railways over the next three years, the bank's regional head said.

Three of the five countries in the regional bloc, -- Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda -- are landlocked and rely on Kenya's Mombasa and Tanzania's Dar es salaam ports to export and import essential goods.

Goods then travel over a patchwork of potholed roads and ancient rail tracks, leading to astronomic transportation costs.

"Infrastructure is the key to poverty reduction in this region. We are thinking about $1.5 billion over the next three years," Aloysius Ordu, AfDB's director for east Africa told Reuters late on Monday.

He spoke after signing a 1.07 billion shilling water services grant with Kenya, the regions biggest economy.

Kenya's recent bloody crisis, which followed a disputed election, disrupted supply chains, and sent prices of essential goods in neighbouring landlocked countries, soaring.

"Events in Kenya over the last few months emphasise the importance of a much more integrated east Africa," said Ordu.

He said the money will go towards the construction of roads, railways and bridges, which will enhance the countries' connections.

The five countries have been moving towards economic, political and social integration under the East African Community regional body.

But poor infrastructure and political uncertainties have been a deterrent to investors, due to increased risk and cost of doing business.

"There are serious challenges. What is important is the recognition of the need for improvement of the business environment," said Ordu.

The Tunis-based AfDB was established 40 years ago to combat poverty and improve lives in Africa through loans, investments and technical assistance.
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Old April 27th, 2008, 12:48 PM   #103
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Last step in Merowe dam construction…
April 27th, 2008 · No Comments

Good news from North Sudan are coming, the third and last diversion of the Nile river was done and was successful, and now, all Nile water will go through the dam.
The consequences will be a creation of an artificial lake of 200km long, it will take to october 2008 to be “fully water loaded”.

Merowe dam implementation unit, which supervises the construction of the dam, released on 16 april 2008, a news about this important event:

The Dams Implementation Unit has celebrated today the third and last diversion for the river path, and the closure of the last spillway gate in preparation for the formation of dam’s reservoir that stores the water needed for power generation.

The Chinese Ambassador to Khartoum has described the diversion process as a beginning for a new era for Sudan, which is full of development and progress, pointing that Merowe Dam represents the depth of relation between and . On his Part, Eng. Mohamed Hassan El Hadari, the DIU Deputy Executive Director affirmed that the Dam’s execution is progressing according to schedule, anticipating that the last quater of this year will witness the generation of 250 mega watt from the 1st and 2nd turbines.


He also pointed to the completion of the resettlement process for all the three affected groups, and work is underway now to complete the resettlement of the second batch of the third group at Eastern Kaheela. Likewise, Dr. Awad Ahmed El Jaz, the Minister of Finance and National Economy has lauded the Sudanese engineers working in the dam, affirming the endeavor of the government to make as an investment attraction centre.

He pointed to the role that can play in the light of the hike in food seeds prices globally.
Speaking in a press conference at the Dam’s body, Mr. El Jaz praised the affected people for the sacrifices they made, reaffirming the support of his ministry for agriculture. He calls on the media to work with the government to support the national principles and developmental achievements. Dr. El Jaz has paid a short visit to Merowe Dam accompanied with the Ministers of Energy, Interior Affairs, and Irrigation, during which they toured the main parts of the dam.

Here some photos of the event:















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Old April 27th, 2008, 05:02 PM   #104
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a nice big damn
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Old April 28th, 2008, 08:55 AM   #105
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Chinese-funded projects begin in DR Congo

KINSHASA, April 9, 2008 (AFP) -Construction of a highway linking two southeastern cities in the Democratic Republic of Congo was set to begin Wednesday, the first phase of a major public works programme funded primarily by China, officials said.

Some 700 million dollars (450 euros) is to be spent this year on highways, railways, schools and hospitals, Publics Works Minister Pierre Lumbi said Tuesday in announcing the launch of the post-war reconstruction programme.

Construction of the 100-kilometre (60-mile) highway linking the cities of Lubumbashi and Kasumbalesa in the southeastern Katanga province was the first of more than a dozen projects set to be launched this year.

Much of the infrastructure in the Democratic Republic of Congo was destroyed in the 1996-2003 wars that sucked in countries across the region.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 03:21 AM   #106
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African countries told to devote 15 percent of budgets to health
Thu May 1, 1:12 PM ET
AFP

African countries should devote 15 percent of their budgets to health, a sector where progress has been hampered by poverty, a conference here decided Wednesday.

The conference on health in Africa attended by 600 delegates opened Monday, sponsored by the African office of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In their final declaration Wednesday, the delegates called on African states to respect a promise made earlier to allocate 15 percent of their budgets to the health sector.

Necessary mechanisms should be set up to make essential medicines, products, technology and infrastructure more readily available and accessible, the conference said.

The delegates hailed progress made on the continent over the past 30 years, noting "encouraging" results in the fight against measles, polio and leprosy.

During the conference WHO regional director for Africa Luis Sambo noted a 91 percent reduction in mortality from measles between 2000 and 2006 as well as an increase in the number of HIV/AIDS patients receiving anti-retrovirals, from one percent in 2003 to 37 percent at the end of 2007.

The director of the UNICEF children's fund for West and Central Africa, Esther Guluma, warned of the repercussions from the current food prices boom on the health of African children.

"At least 28 percent of children in Africa are affected by malnutrition," she told AFP. "With the rise in prices of food products, there will really be a very severe impact on children's nutrition."

The conference was held with participation of the government of Burkina Faso, UNICEF, the UN population fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
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Old May 10th, 2008, 02:49 PM   #107
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15:06, May 10, 2008
Africa still faces challenges, says UN official

Africa is making "very good progress," but must tackle challenges in areas of transportation, infrastructure and water, a senior UN official said Friday.

Kathleen Abdalla, officer-in-charge of the Division for Sustainable Development, made the remarks at the annual Commissio non Sustainable Development (CSD) in New York.

Abdalla said Africa was witnessing "unprecedented growth," with its economy rising some 6 percent in 2005-2006 and 7 percent last year, adding that progress was also made in education, with more children attending primary school.

But she told reporters at the UN headquarters that "poverty remains high and there are many challenges in Africa."

Abdalla said that agricultural productivity is low, and the continent must face other issues such as land tenure, credit availability and limited access to energy.

A very substantial proportion of the labor force in many African countries still depends on agriculture, said David O'Connor, chief of the Policy Integration and Analysis Branch of the Division for Sustainable Development.

O'Connor said it is extremely difficult to boost the productivity of labor with the number of people working in the agricultural sector increasing as quickly as it is.

Speaking to reporters at the press conference, Peter Hartmann of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria said a holistic approach is necessary to address challenges to agriculture in Africa.

"There will be a lot of pain right now for the short term ... but we need to look forward and see how we can bring to the world a new, more stable food system given the projections of demands and population growth," Hartmann said.

Source: Xinhua
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Old May 16th, 2008, 04:50 PM   #108
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Africa fastest growing market for telecom: ITU
Tue, May 13 12:12 PM
Financial Express

Africa has been the fastest growing market worldwide for communication technology in the past three years and will emerge as an important market for the industry, according to the head of the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

"African information and communication technologies industry is an exciting place to be. Market liberalization continues and most countries have established regulatory bodies to ensure a fair, competitive and enabling environment, Hamadoun Tour, Secretary-General of the ITU said on Monday.

The secretary-general was speaking at the opening of a major trade fair "ITU Telecom Africa" in Cairo inaugurated by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Around 200 companies from 45 countries are exhibiting products at the trade fair which has attracted some 70 heads of international companies and 50 government ministers. ITU Telecom Africa runs till Wednesday.

An ITU report released on Monday said growth in Africa's mobile telephone sector had "defied all predictions". Africa had 65 million new subscribers in 2007 alone and mobile phone penetration has risen from just one in 50 people in 2000 to one third of the population today. Mobile phone use is now more evenly distributed across the continent, the report said.

At the beginning of the century, South Africa accounted for over half of all Africa's subscribers, but by last year almost 85 per cent were in other countries of the continent.

The ITU coordinates global use of the radio spectrum, promotes international cooperation on assigning satellite orbits, works to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world and establishes worldwide standards to foster seamless interconnection between a wide range of communications systems.

The ITU report, however, said growth in Internet access in Africa has not kept pace.

In 2007, it is estimated there were some 50 million Internet users in Africa, about one person in 20. In sub-Saharan Africa only three per cent of the population is online.

The average monthly Internet subscription is almost USD 50, close to 70 per cent of average per capita income.
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Old May 18th, 2008, 02:53 PM   #109
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S.Africa power firm agrees to phase in price rise

JOHANNESBURG, May 16 (Reuters) - South Africa's state power firm, under pressure from the ruling ANC party, agreed on Friday to phase in electricity price rises over five years instead of pushing for a sharp hike to address a dire power crisis.

Eskom, which produces about 95 percent of South Africa's electricity, provoked public anger when it asked for a revised 53-percent tariff increase. The African National Congress and union allies said that would hurt the poor and stoke inflation.

Regulators had approved an increase for Eskom of just over 14 percent for 2008/09.

Power cuts in January forced large gold and platinum mines to shut down for five days, pushing world precious metal prices higher. The mines are now operating at 90 to 95 percent of their normal electricity supply.

"We agree on the need for price increases and that they should be smoothed out," Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin said at the end of an energy summit in Johannesburg that drew top officials from Eskom, government, the ANC and labour.

"It's going to be done over a five-year time period," Erwin said, adding that the price hikes, when approved by regulators, would be a shock for the economy.

Erwin was among a number of ministers in President Thabo Mbeki's cabinet who initially supported the utility's electricity price proposal as necessary to fund a 350 billion rand ($46.4 billion) infrastructure expansion.

They changed their tune in the face of opposition from the African National Congress and its labour and Communist allies.

Mbeki lost the leadership of the ruling party to rival Jacob Zuma late last year.

Zuma and other ANC and labour leaders argued that millions of South Africans would be unable to afford electricity if regulators approve Eskom's request. There are also fears it would fuel rising inflation, currently over 10 percent.

"We are convinced that the economy cannot afford that sharp increase in electricity prices," ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said at the summit. He said it would be wrong for Eskom to use price rises to recover from past losses.

COMPROMISE

Eskom has blamed its problems on a combination of factors, including the failure of the government to invest in electricity generating plants, maintenance problems at its existing facilities and wet weather that affected coal supplies.

While maintaining that sharply increasing the cost of electricity would put it on a firmer footing, Eskom has said it is willing to look at other options.

Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga said that the 53-percent price increase was only one of five scenarios that were on the table.

"The final decision comes from the regulators," Maroga told reporters on Friday, describing the summit as a success.

He added that Eskom would meet with government and other stakeholders for further talks to shore up the utility's finances in the face of the crisis.

Eskom's management has played down hopes it could increase electricity supplies quickly and has asked that consumers be patient while it builds new generating capacity.

The utility said on Friday it had awarded a 2.9 billion rand contract to a consortium of local companies to construct the main civil works of its Medupi power station. The total cost of the project is around 80 billion rand.

"Medupi is one of the key installations in Eskom's New Build Programme that is geared towards closing the current supply-demand gap," Brian Dames, Eskom's chief officer for generation, said in a statement.
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Old May 19th, 2008, 11:09 PM   #110
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Chinese built bridge near Merowe (30 millions dollars)

Not in Khartoum, but in Merowe, 300 km North of Khartoum.

A new 30 millions dollar bridge built by China, and hundreds of kms of new roads.

















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Old May 20th, 2008, 03:28 AM   #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by africa500 View Post
Chinese built bridge near Merowe (30 millions dollars)

Not in Khartoum, but in Merowe, 300 km North of Khartoum.

A new 30 millions dollar bridge built by China, and hundreds of kms of new roads.

















Thank you for the pictures! I guess that China and Africa relationship is a good for both continent!
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Old May 21st, 2008, 02:03 PM   #112
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S.Africa wants to replace entire rail fleet

CAPE TOWN, May 20 (Reuters) - South Africa's state-run rail company plans to replace its entire fleet of 4,600 commuter trains to attract passengers and ease congestion on the roads.

"We want to replace the entire fleet," Tshepo Lucky Montana, chief executive officer at the South African Rail Commuter Corporation, told reporters.

"What we are buying now will have to meet and address our requirements in the demand for rail over a period of 20 to 25 years," Montana said, adding that passenger demand was projected to increase over 10 percent a year.

South Africa plans to spend some 140 billion rand ($18.4 billion) over the next five years to revamp its transport infrastructure ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, with 18 billion rand earmarked for passenger rail, though the new trains would probably not be in service by the time the competition starts.

Millions of people in South Africa's sprawling urban and semi-urban areas rely on minibus taxis and trains to ferry them to work. Although cheaper than other transport modes, trains are often late, unsafe and overcrowded using technology dating back to 1956.

A Statistics South Africa survey published in March showed households spent 22.9 percent of their budget on transport, making it the largest and fastest growing item on the budget.

Montana did not say how many trains were ordered or the cost implications but said at today's prices a motor coach costs slightly more than 5 million rand and a passenger coach 3 million.

Montana said the cabinet was expected to make a decision by July amid concerns of rising costs due to increasing steel prices.

But Transport Minister Jeff Radebe said the new trains would not be available in time for the Soccer World Cup. "From what I hear ... (replacing the fleet) will probably be the biggest acquisition currently in the developing world," Radebe said.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 03:28 PM   #113
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Regarding the Merowe dam:

The fertile Nile valley has been attracting human settlement for thousands of years. The section between the 4th and 5th cataract—a significant portion of which will be inundated by the reservoir lake—has been densely populated through nearly all periods of (pre)history, but very little archaeological work has ever been conducted in this particular region. Recent surveys have confirmed the richness and diversity of traceable remains, from the Stone Age to the Islamic period.

Several foreign institutions have been recently or are currently involved in salvage archaeology in the region, among them the ACACIA project University of Cologne, Gdańsk Archaeological Museum Expedition (GAME), Polish Academy of Sciences, Humboldt University of Berlin, the Italian Institute for Africa and the Orient (IsIAO), the University College London, the Sudan Archaeological Research Society, the Hungarian Meroe Foundationand the University of California at Santa Barbara - Arizona State University consortium.

Their main problems are the shortness of the remaining time and limited funding. Unlike the large UNESCO campaign conducted in Egypt before the completion of the Aswan High Dam, when more than a thousand archaeological sites could be documented and complete buildings were moved to prevent them from drowning in Lake Nasser's floods, work at the 4th cararact is much more restricted.

Historian Runoko Rashidi recently issued a statement in solidarity with Sudanese Nubians protesting the dams and called for a halt to their construction.
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Old May 28th, 2008, 01:57 PM   #114
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Japan vows to double Africa aid
By Yoko Nishikawa
Tue May 27, 10:46 PM ET
Reuters

Japan unveiled a package of steps to help boost growth in Africa on Wednesday, vowing to double its aid and business investment, as it seeks closer ties with the resource-rich continent.

In an opening speech for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), to which Japan has attracted more than 40 African leaders, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda also said Japan would set up a new $2.5 billion facility to help Japanese firms to invest more in Africa.

"If I were to liken the history of African development to a volume of literature, then what we are about to do now is to open to a new page, titled the 'century of African growth'," Fukuda said, adding that developing transportation infrastructure was key to boost growth there.

The three-day conference in Yokohama, near Tokyo, is a litmus test for Japan's efforts to help Africa as it seeks more mineral resources from the continent.

Japan also hopes to win support for its long-standing bid for a permanent seat on U.N. Security Council -- a topic which Fukuda repeatedly mentioned in bilateral meetings with African leaders on Tuesday.

Some 2,500 participants, representing 52 African nations, delegates from international agencies, and activists such as Irish rock star Bono, have gathered at TICAD as Africa faces new challenges of soaring food and energy prices, which have led to riots in some countries.

Besides talking about how to boost growth in Africa, delegates also stressed the need to meet the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight globally agreed targets to be reached by 2015.

As this year markets the halfway point to achieve the goals, which include halving the number of people living in poverty on less than $1 a day and providing universal primary education, concerns are growing that most countries may fail to meet them.

LEADERS' SUMMIT

For Africa, closer ties with Japan means not only getting more aid and investment from the world's second-largest economy but also getting its voice heard on the international stage, especially since Japan chairs the Group of Eight meetings of rich nations this year, including a leaders' summit in July.

"What Prime Minister Fukuda decides this week will set the tone for this summer's G8 Summit where we expect action on promises to Africa -- not more rhetoric or fancy accounting," said Takumo Yamada, spokesman for Oxfam Japan.

Fukuda vowed to double Tokyo's development aid to Africa over the next five years. He pledged to provide up to $4 billion of yen loans to Africa over the next five years to improve African infrastructure, while doubling grant aid and technical assistance over the next five years as well.

"Besides the increase in aid, which is highly appreciated, TICAD needs to go further," said Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. "What remains to be seen is increased trade and investment between Africa and Japan."

Citing World Bank figures, Kikwete said Japanese investment in Sub-Saharan Africa between 2002 and 2004 amounted to $415 million, just 0.4 percent of Japan's global foreign investment.

It is the fourth TICAD conference in the past 20 years, yet Japan has lagged behind rivals China and India in accessing Africa's rich bounty of metals and oil. Japan's trade with Africa is a meager 2 percent of overall trade.

To foster Japanese businesses in Africa, Fukuda said Japan would dispatch a large-scale economic mission, comprising leaders from the public and private sector, later this year.

A senior Japanese foreign ministry official said it was still undecided which countries this mission would visit, but a wide range of businesses such as steel, chemical, automobile, trading, and retail industries was likely to join.

"It is definitely important for business leaders to see through their own eyes what's cooking in Africa because there are a lot of things cooking in Africa," he added.
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Old June 8th, 2008, 08:08 AM   #115
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Africa not using enough renewable energy: experts
Thu Jun 5, 8:04 AM ET

Solving Africa's power crisis will require greater energy efficiency and countries making better use of renewable resources, the World Economic Forum on Africa heard Thursday.

The continent, where 600 million people still don't have electricity, has to think of better ways to promote energy efficiency while reducing enormous losses of energy from people illegally plugging into the electricity grid.

Pierre Gadonneix, chairman of Electricite de France, one of Europe's largest energy players, told delegates in Cape Town that Africa had the unique solution of vast sources of renewable energy sources at its disposal.

"It is clear there is not enough renewables used in Africa when you think about what what is possible with the wind, with the sun. You have too many countries in which there is no policies about renewables."

Africa is at the mercy of the global triple threat of fuel, finance and food, delegates to the conference heard earlier, and as economic growth soars on the continent, available energy is rapidly proving insufficient.

In South Africa, energy giant Eskom is suffering the results of years of failing to invest in energy infrastructure, with widespread blackouts affecting the mining industry and growth.

Eskom chief executive Jacob Maroga, whose company is trying to raise prices by 53 percent, said the energy sector needed better pricing levels, more competition and more investment from the private sector.

"In the context of South Africa, I think power is the most scarcest commodity but if you ask what is the most cheapest it's power. In an environment where you have a commodity that is the most variable, it can't be the cheapest."

Gaddoneix said energy was not a commodity like any other where normal rules of competition applied as it was an essential good, however people had to face up to the fact that energy was expensive.

"Energy is expensive, whatever happens it is going to be more expensive. This is reality ... because oil is expensive."

Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank, said being more energy efficient was the "alternative fuel" everybody was looking for.

"We normally talk about renewables, new sources. This is all very good, this is all very costly. But where can we get it quicker and where can we get it at less cost - Using alternative fuel, and that is consuming less and being more energy efficient in what we are doing."

Gaddoneix said losses of energy, either unavoidable technical losses in distribution or non-technical such as people plugging into power grids illegally, was the most urgent issue in Africa.

"It's enormous, in Africa the average is above 20 percent. The technical losses that you cannot avoid ... somewhere between 7.5 percent and eight percent."

Copyright © 2008 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.
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Old June 11th, 2008, 08:48 AM   #116
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Kenya to invest 25.2 bn dollars for long term growth
10 June 2008
Agence France Presse

Kenya on Tuesday announced plans to invest 1.6 trillion shillings (25.2 billion dollars, 16.3 billion euro) in its infastructure over the next five years, in a deal agreed by the three main political parties.

Of the cash, 1.1 trillion shillings (17 billion dollars, 11 billion euro) will be raised from public and private sector partnership while the rest will raised from national coffers through budgetary allocations, they said.

The plan, dubbed "Vision 2030" was agreed through the harmonisation of the manifestos of the three main political parties forming the coalition government, ending months of post-poll violence.

It is expected to be the country's official development plan for the 2008/09 fiscal year starting Thursday, marking the start of the most ambitious development plans since independence in 1963.

"Let us all unite in building our country. I have no doubt in my mind that we will succeed if we all work together towards improving our country," President Mwai Kibaki said while launching the vision.

"We are capable of making Kenya even better. What we need to do is make up our minds that we will not allow personal interests to override those of the country."

The country's growth is expected to dip to four percent in 2008, down from the earlier forecast of seven percent, due to the impact of the tribal and revenge as well as os police shootings in which at least 1,500 people were killed and around 300,000 displaced.

Many have started returning to their farmlands, only to find them either burnt or plundered, mainly in the breadbasket regions. High cost of farm inputs and delayed rains have raised the prospects of food shortage in the country.

Overall inflation has soared to 31.5 percent in May, the highest since 1994, owing to steep bills from food and oil, prompting Kenyans to urge the government to introduce price controls, a move it rejected.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the government would invest in the country's infrastructure.

"Central to Vision 2030 is that our country will be firmly interconnected through a network of roads, railways, ports, airports, and ICT," said Odinga, pointing out some of the run-down infrastructures in the country.

Government economists have identified agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, wholesale and trade, business process outsourcing and financial services as the priority sector to power the growth, which help to boost the economy to 10 percent by 2012, National Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya.

Oparanya said the government was keen to exclude foreign funding which in the past has been pegged on conditionalities, some of which stoked the near-collapse of the economy in the early 1990s, when the 2008/09 budget is unveiled Thursday.

Currently up to 60 percent of Kenya's 35 million people live on less than a dollar a day, but critics have said the figure could be much higher.

The peace accord is expected to boost foreign investment, notably the recently announced deals by Coca-Cola, which in March announced investing 50 billion dollars, and France Telecom which bought a 51-percent stake worth 390-million-dollar in state-owned Telkom Kenya last November.

The planned merger between South Africa's Stanbic and CFC Bank has been delayed by a court case.

Although the country's foreign direct investment increased from nearly 60 million dollars in 2006 to 85 million dollars last year, analysts have warned the the post-election violence could reduce the figure.
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Old June 11th, 2008, 01:13 PM   #117
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SAfrica urged to open power sector to private firms

JOHANNESBURG, June 10 (Reuters) - South Africa must embrace private sector involvement in the electricity sector if it wants to solve a power crisis that threatens to derail its growing economy, a top business group said on Tuesday.

Mining companies and other major consumers of electricity have seen their power supply rationed since the national grid came close to collapse in January, forcing big gold and platinum mines to shut down for five days.

Power outages spurred a 22 percent drop in mining production in the first quarter of 2008, fuelling interest in private sector production for the national grid and business customers such as mining firms and industry.

With the slowdown in growth and fears the crisis will blight the 2010 soccer World Cup, there are calls for President Thabo Mbeki's government to take a fresh look at electricity generation and the nation's dependence on Eskom [ESCJ.UL]. The state-owned utility provides 95 percent of South Africa's electricity.

"Clearly we must make way for the private sector," Jerry Vilakazi, chief executive officer of Business Unity South Africa, said at an energy summit in Johannesburg.

"The private sector is willing, it wants to invest in electricity generation and distribution, but it will only do so if the environment is conducive," Vilakazi said.

Critics accuse the government of keeping electricity prices artificially low for nearly a decade as part of an effort to make power affordable for the poor, one of the cornerstones of the ruling ANC's political support.

Private companies argued they were unlikely to make the returns required to justify the cost of entering the electricity business. But their interest peaked after the government acknowledged tariffs must rise, though private firms still say the sector remains too regulated and subject to government whim.

TARIFF INCREASES

Eskom asked regulators to approve doubling electricity tariffs over two years, provoking a backlash from the ANC and its labour allies, who said it would hurt the poor and stoke inflation. The utility has since backed off, agreeing in principle to raise tariffs gradually over five years.

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) is due to announce a decision on the tariff structure next week.

Chris Hart, an economist with Investment Solutions in Johannesburg, told the summit that regulators should stop focusing on pricing and embrace a role that encouraged a level playing field for competitors.

"The regulator should not set the price. The market should set the price," he said. "The sector needs to be opened up to all players. We cannot have only one player in electricity."

Eskom is embarking on a 350 billion rand ($43.89 billion) infrastructure expansion to boost electricity supply and has signalled that it is open to co-investment in power projects.

But Mkebi's government, which is in a formal coalition with the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), has stopped short of supporting the idea of a large private sector role in electricity.

COSATU and the SACP oppose privatisation of state companies and are suspicious of private sector involvement in key areas of the economy, including electricity generation.

They have blamed the government for failing to invest in power generating plants despite signs almost a decade ago that demand in the fast-growing economy would outstrip supply.

NERSA Chief Executive Smunda Mokoena said on Tuesday the government would have to help fund Eskom's expansion programme.

"There has to be some form of government injection so that the infrastructure backlog can be addressed," Mokoena told reporters.

Power shortages have dented South Africa's growth, which fell to a 6-1/2-year low of 2.1 percent, quarter-on-quarter, in the first three months of 2008.
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Old June 13th, 2008, 12:31 PM   #118
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Nigeria to seek World Bank loan to upgrade roads: minister
11 June 2008
AFP

Nigeria's government on Wednesday approved a plan to seek 330 million dollars from the World Bank to revamp its abysmal roads, Information Minister John Odeh said.

"Cabinet approved the signing of the financing agreement for the 330 million dollars ...(credit) for the improvement of road infrastructure in Nigeria," he told a news conference after a weekly cabinet meeting.

The interest-free loan is to be repaid over 40 years.

Many roads in this oil-rich nation, Africa's most populous nation, are in a state of utter disrepair and often blamed for the country's high accident rate.
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Old June 19th, 2008, 05:24 AM   #119
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Chinese firm says funding stalling Nigeria's rail project
18 June 2008
Agence France Presse

A Chinese firm handling an 8.3 billion-dollar (5.4-billion-euro) contract to upgrade Nigeria's under-performing railway system said Wednesday inadequate government funding was stalling the project.

Nigeria signed the contract with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) in October 2006.

"The contract provided for an advance payment of 1.1356 billion dollars from the federal government of Nigeria but so far we have been paid only 250 million dollars in March 2007," CCECC Vice President Chen Xiaoxing said in a published statement here.

He said despite the problem of funding, the company had made some progress on the 1,315-kilometre (817 miles) Lagos-Kano double track standard gauge, which is the first phase of the 25-year-long modernisation project.

The Chinese firm has been under fire in the media for the slow pace of work at the site.

The Punch newspaper early this week accused the firm and the government of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, which signed the deal, of inflating the contract by 5.8 billion dollars.

But CCECC said its rates are more than competitive.

"The international average construction cost per kilometre is about 3.5 million dollars whereas the cost per kilometre on the Lagos-Kano line comes to about 3.04 million dollars for double track," it added.

The company urged Nigeria to release money to enable it to continue with the project which it sees as a key part of the solution to the country's transport problems.

"Based on our experiences in China and the world over, there is no alternative to satisfy land transportation in Nigeria up to 2020 and beyond other than what is proposed in the modernisation contract," it said.

"The Nigerian government should realise that every day that passes without a firm decision taken on this modernisation project will only aggravate the cost in the final analysis," it added.

Once Nigeria's pride, its railways, like much of the rest of the country's infrastructure, have slowly crumbled into disrepair.

Nigeria has a network of 3,505 kilometres (2,178 miles) of narrow-gauge single track lines, covering nine of the country's 36 states. Most of its 200 locomotives however, broke down long ago.

The only passenger service still operating in the country takes two hours to link central Lagos, the commercial capital, with Ijoko, a small commuter town less than 30 kilometres (20 miles) away.
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Old June 20th, 2008, 04:23 AM   #120
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South Africa approves 13.3 percent electricity rate increase
18 June 2008
Agence France Presse

South Africa's energy regulator said Wednesday that struggling electricity giant Eskom could increase tariffs by another 13.3 percent to cover mounting costs in the midst of a power crisis.

The tariff increase falls far short of the 53 percent Eskom had asked the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) to approve. It won a 14.2 percent hike in December 2007.

"The energy regulator decided ... that Eskom is allowed to recover additional primary energy costs of 2.827 billion rands (350 million dollars, 226 million euros) through the electricity tariff.

"The approval amounts to a 13.3 percent nominal increase in addition to the 14.2 percent already approved," said NERSA chairman Collin Matjila.

"Effectively, this translates into an average price increase of 27.5 percent year-on-year."

Matjila conceded that the economy -- already ailing amid high interest rates, inflation and increasing food prices -- would be hit by the decision.

"It will have an impact on ordinary South Africans. It will have an impact on business," said Matjila, arguing, however, that in the long run, "if we have an Eskom that is viable it contributes directly to sustaining economic growth."

In an attempt to reduce the impact of the increases on the poor, NERSA ruled that those falling under the "domestic low tariff" would not be subject to any increase above the initial 14.2 percent approved.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions said it was concerned at projections that tariffs will be hiked 20-25 percent over the next three years.

The trade union federation said in a statement the increase posed a threat to jobs "at a time when businesses are being hit by other runaway increases in loan repayments, fuel costs, etc."

Eskom, which also wanted NERSA to revise its December decision in which it approved only 14.2 percent of the then requested 18.7 percent tariff increase, said in its application it was facing "significant financial challenges."

The embattled energy provider has come under increased pressure as it battles to balance supply with demand after a failure to invest in infrastructure in line with strong economic growth.

The government welcomed the decision and said a team was working on an "appropriate fiscal injection" to strengthen Eskom's balance sheet.

"(The decision) confirms government’s view that, as a country, we cannot avoid higher than normal electricity price increases but at the same time, we have to be cognisant of the current economic hardships faced by many of our people," Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said in a statement.

South African consumers have long enjoyed some of the lowest electricity prices in the world.

An energy crisis, labelled by government as a national emergency, caused mass blackouts earlier this year which hit the key mining industry, taking a toll on the economy.

Growth in the first quarter of 2008 measured 2.1 percent on a 12-month basis, down sharply from 5.3 percent in the last quarter of 2007, according to official data.
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