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Forget these foreign firms, we have plenty of skills here

By Ndirangu Joseph | December 30th 2019 at 09:00:00 GMT +0300

Africa is no longer the Dark Continent, it is a growing continent. Nowadays, every government or company is looking for opportunities in Africa.

Nobody denies that Africa needs infrastructure. But why are all construction tenders given to foreign companies, especially the Chinese?

Local firms are also capable of doing great jobs when it comes to building roads or bridges. One third of the world's population lives in China.

When African governments give Chinese companies tenders, they create job opportunities for the Chinese. This needs to stop.

Some years back, foreign companies that yearned for construction tenders in Africa had to undergo great scrutiny. We see less of that today.

Foreign governments have realised that in Africa, they can just walk in and win tenders without having to do much about it.

Furthermore, our economies are such a mess that we always have to beg foreigners for handouts in form government-to-government grants.

We always argue that our companies do not have enough capacity to build mega-projects. While this is true, we cannot expect these firms to build capacity if our governments to guide them into mega-projects by organising loans for them.

We in Africa have the required technical skills to build all these projects. Our main challenge is corruption. To win a tender, most African contractors have to pay a bribe resulting to poor work.

The foreign contractors pay little bribes or none since the contracts are pre-financed by their governments or banks. African leaders are very much concerned with the economic growth of the continent. The Africa Union, in its 2014 summit, identified infrastructure projects as a priority.

It was estimated that Africa would spend approximately $350 billion on Infrastructure before 2040. These budgets are beyond the financing capacities of local firms.

Attracting private sector participation through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) is therefore essential.

Moreover, foreign contractors have always assured us of good quality. The massive population growth in Africa presents opportunities for visionary leaders to take advantage of foreign collaboration and to think of building the capacity of local firms.   

Letter to the Editor from Ndirangu Joseph.

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