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South Africa’s President Ramaphosa Urges ‘Massive Infrastructure Build’ for Economic Reopening

June 8, 2020 (EIRNS)—In a speech before the South African National Editors Forum, on May 31, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa—currently also the chair of the African Union—declared his intention to form a “new economy” in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown, and put emphasis on infrastructure as the core upon which to build it.

While the majority of his speech was devoted to the coronavirus crisis and South Africa’s response, at the end Ramaphosa came to the government’s plan for “reopening” the economy, which is already under way in phases. Stressing that he was reopening the economy, “so that people can earn a living and so that this immediate health crisis does not result in a permanent economic crisis,” he also included the following:

“[W]e are resolved not merely to return our economy to where it was before the coronavirus, but to forge a new economy in a new global reality.... A key driver of this recovery will be a massive infrastructure build and maintenance program that mobilizes public and private resources on a significant scale.”

In that light, it is notable that two African nations have, in the recent days, taken their fate in their own hands on this question. The government of Kenya is reportedly on the verge of approving $900 million (about KSh90 billion in Kenyan shillings) for construction of the Magwagwa dam in the western interior of the country. This year’s flooding cost the government over $50 million in damaged infrastructure, not to put a price on the 100,000 displaced and over 200 fatalities.

Likewise the government of Nigeria has just voted $120 million for the final completion of the Kashimbilla dam, like Kenya’s Magwagwa dam, also a multipurpose dam—flood control, irrigation and power generation—in the southeastern Taraba sector, bordering on Cameroon. Already 90% complete, the dam is expected to provide flood control benefitting 6 million people, water supply for 400,000 people, irrigation and 40 MW of power.

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