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September 1, 2014, 12:36 pm

African nations come together for progress

We are very excited about a new mega project being formalized by the nations of South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya. This will entail many billions of dollars in projects for all businesses wishing to apply their talents and will create millions of permanent jobs for the citizens of these nations.

This project is equivalent to the United States Interstate System built during the 1950s and 1960s. Its impact will bring Eastern Africa into the modernized world. African-American entrepreneurs should take a serious look at this and explore the endless opportunities. Remember we fight for “crumbs” on our own big government projects. Over the years we have done no more than 2 percent of any total. We do hardly anything on our own highway projects. Here, we will be welcomed and encouraged to “jump in.” This can be our new day.

What has been designed is an economic corridor incorporating all three nations. It goes from the coastal region of Lamu in Kenya to the new nation of South Sudan and inclusive of the Isiolo region in southern Ethiopia. Right now these areas are remote and undeveloped. The starting infrastructure will be composed of the following: A deep water seaport located in Manda Bay of Lamu, Kenya; 550 miles of new open highway; 1,069 miles of new railway line; oil pipelines (787.5 miles for crude oil and 612.5 miles for products from Lamu to Isiolo, and Isiolo to South Sudan and Isiolo to Ethiopia); an oil refinery (120,000 barrels per day) in Lamu; new airports in the towns of Lamu, Isiolo and Turkana; new resort cities at Lamu, Isiolo and Turkana areas. Other opportunities include: Water supply and sanitation projects; fiber optic cable connections; energy generation and supply projects; irrigation projects; industrial parks; minerals exploitation and waste management.

As you can see this is going to be absolutely massive. But it is only the first phase of a much larger undertaking. Once the above is complete, the nations to the west such as Uganda, Burundi, Congo and the Cameroon will match this project. In the end we will have a pipeline, railway and intercontinental highway system linking the Indian Ocean side of the continent of Africa to the Atlantic Ocean side. Transport and international trade will be improved by a rapid pace. Think of the industrial parks, hotels, restaurants, office complexes being created and employing people like never before. That still isn’t all. Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique to the southern portion of the continent will emulate the above. Thus, Africa will have two systems of mass transit, transport and economic corridors.

This is so exciting and massive, one must wonder how to approach it. The National Black Chamber of Commerce is developing a firm partnership with the nations of Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan. The first official meeting explaining the details of the project will be held in Washington, D.C., on April 30.

Representatives of the three nations and also the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will be involved in discussing the timing and how to go about competing for the myriad of projects that will be evolving. Besides entrepreneurs having massive opportunities, think about the big need for workforce development (job training), recruiting, leasing, housing, etc. The catering of employees is going to be in the many millions of dollars on a constant and long-term basis. The face of Africa is starting to change and those who want to partake should get ready and start at the beginning.

It is going to be so refreshing — Black contractors and engineers being welcomed to projects. The stench of discrimination will not be in the air as it is in this nation. We have to fight, sue and protest on a constant basis in order to get the 2 percent that we have. That atmosphere will be absent here. Financing and matchmaking with local talent will be imperative. We will exhaust all resources in making this work for our members. The U.S. Department of Commerce has a vehicle to help our interested business owners meet their counterparts in particular nations. They will vet the local firms and find the best fit (reputable and solid) for a particular American business. Then we will see the partnership through and assist them in getting contracts.

Yes, this is something big to look forward to. There will be competition from Asia and Europe but we Americans, especially African Americans, aren’t afraid of competition. Besides we have a natural affinity with the people of East Africa and they have made it clear that we are most welcomed. It is time for us to get busy building up the Mother Land. Wealth, business development and job creation are going to make incredible changes that are long overdue. — (NNPA)

 

Harry Alford is the co-founder, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .