Infrastructure: The Most Important Enabler of Organic Growth in Africa

  • Kobus Jonker
  • Bryan Robinson


While economic growth and diversification can be regarded as the ‘fuel’ for development, infrastructure is the ‘engine’ that powers growth. China’s contribution to Africa in this regard is phenomenal, and this chapter describes a wide range of infrastructural projects that have reduced the ‘bottlenecks’ in infrastructure development. One way this has been financed has been through the adoption of ‘Angola-mode’ framework agreements, essentially a swap agreement of the provision of infrastructure by the Chinese, financed mostly by China’s Exim Bank, in return for oil or mineral resources, or the proceeds of improved manufacturing capacity. The One Belt One Road Chinese initiative that includes a vast road and rail network in Africa is described, with special attention to China’s involvement in the integrated transport infrastructure development in Ethiopia which includes the only urban tram system in Africa and a new railway line linking Addis Ababa to the Port of Djibouti. In addition, the new road network traversing the Lesotho mountain Kingdom and the impact this has made to the well-being of rural communities are considered.


  1. African Development Bank Group. 2011. Handbook on Infrastructural Statistics. Accessed from: (accessed: 28 May 2017).
  2. CEIC. 2016. China’s Investment: % of GDP from 1952 to 2016. Accessed from: (accessed: 13 July 2017).
  3. Chang-fu, H. and Yuan, X. 2011. ‘Research on the Role of Urban Rail Transit in Promoting Economic Development’, 2011 International Conference on Green Buildings and Sustainable Cities’. Elsevier Ltd.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. FOCAC. 2017. Latest News Releases: 2016–2017. Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. [Online]. Available from: (accessed: 29 May 2017).
  5. Foster, V. and Briceño-Garmendia, C. 2010. Africa’s Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation. © World Bank. Available from: License: Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0 IGO) (
  6. Shi, Y., Guo, S. and Sun, P. 2017. ‘The Role of Infrastructure in China’s Regional Economic Growth’, Journal of Asian Economics, 49: 26–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Song, W. 2015. ‘Seeking New Allies in Africa: China’s Policy Towards Africa During the Cold War as Reflected in the Construction of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway’, Journal of Modern Chinese History, 9 (1): 46–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Johannesburg Action Plan (2016–2018). 25 December 2015. FOCAC. [Online]. Accessed from: (accessed: 29 May 2017).
  9. The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa. 2015. Infrastructure Financing Trends in Africa—2015 Report. Accessed from: (accessed: 17 July 2017).

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kobus Jonker
    • 1
  • Bryan Robinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Nelson Mandela UniversityPort ElizabethSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations