Electric cars, LED lighting, reusable bags; many a green innovation has gone mainstream in recent years – and now energy storage is joining the list.
With new tech start-ups entering the scene this year to produce storage batteries, costs for storing energy are set to fall, making 2016 the year of battery storage around the world.
Why the focus on storage? More companies are turning to wind and solar energy but weather patterns are far from consistent. By storing the energy produced in batteries, it can be released for use when it is needed, and not only throughout the day, but from season to season as well.
Energy storage has already taken off in some markets around the world, driven by renewable energy generation, but has largely been overlooked so far in Britain, mainly because of the high cost of implementing storage technologies.
In some markets, such as the US, Germany, and Japan, energy storage is being used commercially. In the US, about 13 per cent of electricity comes from renewable sources and in Germany it equates to around 30 per cent of electricity consumed. And the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) pumped $700 million into energy storage for Japan in 2015.
Investing now to build energy storage systems that take advantage of local, renewable resources could ultimately save companies money by paving the way to energy independence. “It’s a huge advantage to keep energy locally and bring it back locally when you need it, without having to transport it across the country,” says Franz Jenowein, Sustainability Consulting Director at JLL.
The cost of energy storage needs to come down for the commercial real estate industry to embrace it. “Although there’s excitement around the numbers, it might take up to 10 years for companies to get their return on investment,” says Jenowein.
Knowledge of a new technology is one thing; actually using it is quite another. The photovoltaic (PV) effect, responsible for converting light into energy, for example, isn’t new: a 19-year-old French physicist discovered it in 1839.
“Solar PV panels were first used by space satellites in the late 1950s. And battery storage technology has come a long way, but it’s only really come onto the radar with Tesla,” says Jenowein who noted that the premium, electric vehicle automaker used a “very clever communications strategy to make something as geeky as a battery attractive.”
Introducing super batteries
Batteries, pumped-storage systems, ice storage, and heat thermal storage make up some of the more common energy storage technologies for use during peak demand to bring grid usage down and to compensate for peak electricity tariffs. But super batteries, the same types that power electric vehicles, are the current focus of tech companies ever since Tesla introduced the Powerwall energy storage system for homes in May 2015.
Energy stored in batteries provides a promising way to store renewable energy for buildings, too. They can power lights, computers, heating and cooling equipment during peak times, can take over during power outages, and they provide an alternative to fossil fuel powered back-up generators.
Storage battery systems have two functions. “The beauty is that you not only generate energy, but you also have an energy holding technology. Batteries can be connected to the power grid, potentially playing a key role in the emerging smart grids,” says Jenowein. Once you put energy storage systems in buildings and connect to the grid, they become part of this new energy ecosystem.
Getting into the act
More UK tech start-ups are getting into the act by developing their own storage batteries, which they can sell to commercial building owners, in a sort of “storage war” competition, with companies such as Powervault, Moixa Technology, and redT.
Powervault, for example, plans to “take on Tesla” by providing home energy storage systems for British homeowners. Moixa’s system is for residential and commercial uses, and redT’s is for industrial and utility-scale usage.
Although this technology is still prohibitively expensive for widespread use, as production increases and more companies get into the game, prices will go down. “Costs are expected to fall 40 percent over the next five years,” according to JLL’s 2016 Sustainability Trends report.
Jenowein paints a picture of the environment in the UK today: a recognition by building managers of higher electricity rates during day peak times and a willingness to do something about it, and the technology solutions of the batteries. He says that lots of components need to come together for energy storage to become more prevalent, such as regulatory elements, subsidies and incentives, and software to integrate the technologies.
“The challenge is to make it all work together,” says Jenowein. His prediction: energy storage for use in commercial office buildings will be more commonplace, but probably not before 2025 or 2030.
Last week San Francisco-based transport tech giant Uber launched a motorcycle hailing service, known as UberMOTO, in Bangkok, Thailand, as a pilot project that aims to provide faster and reliable alternative transport in cities that are densely populated and prone to heavy traffic, Reuters reported.
While there are no immediate plans for the service to be launched in Africa, where motorbikes are used widely due to under developed transport system in many cities, the high standard that comes with signing up to Uber is expected to improve passenger safety on the continent.
In Uganda, where motorcycles — popularly known as boda bodas — are the main mode of transport in the capital Kampala and other smaller towns, there is already a startup that seeks to provide safe and efficient services for riders and their passengers.
The SafeBoda app, an initiative by a local tech startup, allows users to hail a boda boda at the click of a smartphone.
According to a CNN report, over 80,000 rides are taken on motorbikes in Kampala each day.
Services like UberMOTO and SafeBoda that require their drivers to meet certain standards and for all passengers using their service to wear helmets are seen as a good way to improve safety on the roads.
“Motorcycles are part of the commuting culture in Thailand, Douglas Ma, Uber’s head of Asia expansion told CNN, adding that the new service would also create job opportunities for thousands of Thais.
UberMOTO will be available on the Uber mobile application and operators will be required to have similar qualifications as their car counterparts and a helmet for their passengers.
The company has partnered with the Thai Traffic Police and Head Awareness Club (HAC) in efforts to educate the residents on motorcycle safety and is donating helmet to students and adults as part of the program.
This is not the first time that Uber has introduced motorcycle services. In 2012, it tried a similar service in Paris, France that lasted for several weeks. A similar service, UberAUTO, was also introduced in India but was abandoned months into existence after it was unsuccessful.
At least thirty six airlines are gunning for a slice of Nairobi’s airport traffic, in a move that could support Kenya’s floundering tourism and ratchet up price competition.
The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority says 36 passenger and cargo airlines are seeking licences to operate local and international cargo and passenger flights, a move seen lifting Nairobi’s transport hub status ambitions.
Zimbabwe-based Global Africa Aviation (Put) Limited have sought licence to conduct cargo flights from Harare to Nairobi while West Wind Aviation Limited seeks approval to offer passengers and freight between Nairobi, East, West, Central and Southern Africa from its current base at Wilson Airport.
Italy’s Neos S.P.A and Meridiana Fly have sought approval to operate chartered flights on a bi-weekly basis from Malpensa, Italy to Mombasa and a weekly flight from Katowice-Hurghada to Mombasa respectively.
Other new entrants include Poland’s Small Planet Airlines that plans weekly flights to Kenya while Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation has sought licence to conduct cargo services from Nairobi to Jeddah and back.
On the East African front Auric Air Services Limited, Tanzanian Air Services and Air Excel Limited, all from Tanzania have sought to offer regional passenger services, thanks to the recently signed air traffic protocol that gives regional operators from East African Community automatic rights to use sister facilities at no extra cost.
Five Forty Aviation and Baracuda Airways Holdings Limited plan to launch weekly flights to Homa Bay while East African Safari Air Express Limited wants to be allowed to fly to Kabamet weekly.
DAC Aviation (E.A.) Limited wants to enjoy non-scheduled air services for passengers, cargo and mail within Kenya and to other points in Africa, Middle East and Asia.
Ocean Airlines Limited seeks to entrench its leadership in the Nairobi-Northern Kenya route and is seeking permission to fly people and cargo to from Nairobi to Kisumu, Garissa and Wajir.
Jetways Airlines Limited also wants to fly to South Sudan’s Juba capital via Entebbe, Mogadishu which will be integrated with its domestic route plying Eldoret, Lodwar, Kakuma, Mombasa, Malindi, La mu, Waji, and Mandera.
Treedo n Airlines Express Limited had also applied for inclusion of new routes to include Eastern and Central Africa while its domestic routes will be ferrying of passengers from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport to Ukunda, Wajir, and Eldoret.
Others are Kenya Homes Company Limited, Timbis Air Services, Aberdair Aviation Limited, Skymax Aviation Limited, Northwood Agencies Limited, Nairobi Mission Aviation Fellowship (K), GeoAir Limited, Transafrican Air Limited, Skyward Express Limited and Aeronav Limited.
Africa’s air safety last year was better than over the five-year period 2010–2014, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) reported recently. While the hull loss rate for jet airliners was down, that for turboprop airliners showed a dramatic decline. The jet hull loss rate in Africa in 2015 was 3.49 per million flights, compared with a rate of 3.69 for 2010–2014, while the turboprop hull loss rate was 4.53, compared with 18.20 for the preceding five-year period. There were four commercial hull loss accidents in sub-Saharan Africa last year. Two involved jets and two involved turboprops. Neither jet accident saw any fatalities, nor did one of the turboprop losses. Unfortunately, the other turboprop loss did result in fatalities. In addition, there were two accidents involving jet aircraft in the region which did not result in hull losses but did cause fatalities. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a runway excursion by a freighter aircraft caused eight fatalities on the ground. Over Senegal, an airliner collided with a smaller jet serving as an air ambulance while the airliner suffered only moderate damage and nobody onboard suffered any injuries, the smaller jet disappeared (its wreckage has not yet been found) and is considered lost and all seven people onboard are presumed dead.
“African safety is moving in the right direction,” affirmed Iata director-general and CEO Tony Tyler. “In 2015, we saw improvements, compared to the five-year accident rate for both jet and turboprop hull losses. Nevertheless, challenges to bringing Africa in line with global performance remain. One valuable tool to assist this effort is Iosa (Iata Operational Safety Audit). The 32 sub-Saharan Africa airlines on the Iosa registry are performing 3.5 times better than non-Iosa operators in terms of all accidents (3.62 per million flights versus 12.99). States should make Iosa a part of the certification process.” “Governments in the region also need to accelerate implementation of International Civil Aviation Organisation’s safety-related standards and recommended practices (SARPS), according to the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme,” he added. “As of the end of January 2016, only 21 African States had accomplished at least 60% of implementation of the SARPS.” Worldwide, the jet hull loss rate last year was 0.32, which was up on the 0.27 of 2014 but still 30% better than the figure of 0.46 for the five-year period 2010–2014.
A loss rate of 0.32 works out to one air accident every 3.1-million flights. Iata member airlines suffered a jet hull loss rate was 0.22 (or one accident for every 4.5-million flights). This was in accord with the 0.21 figure for 2010–2014 but up on the 2014 figure of 0.12. However, the Iata loss rate was 31% better than the global rate. All 262 Iata member airlines have to be on the Iosa registry (another 146 airlines which are not Iata members are also on the Iosa registry). Regarding turboprops, the hull loss rate in 2015 was 1.29 per million flights. This was a significant improvement on the 3.95 figure for 2010–2014. Regarding the other regions, last year, Asia-Pacific had a jet hull loss rate of 0.21, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS – former Soviet Union, except the Baltic States) 1.88, Europe 0.15, Latin America and the Caribbean 0.39, the Middle East and North Africa 0.00 (yes, zero), North America 0.32 and North Asia also 0.00. The turboprop hull loss rate for Asia-Pacific was 2.07, for CIS 0.00, for Europe also 0.00, for Latin America and the Caribbean also 0.00, for the Middle East and North Africa also 0.00, for North America 0.51 and for North Asia 25.19.
Two points: the five-year 2010–2014 average for turboprop hull loss rates for the CIS was 17.83, so that region also enjoyed a significant safety improvement; and, as there are relatively few turboprop flights in North Asia, a small number of accidents there cause a big increase in the statistics. It should be noted that the loss last year of Germanwings Flight 9525 and Metrojet Flight 9268, which together cost 374 lives, are not classified as accidents, as they were deliberately perpetrated. Flight 9525 was crashed by its suicidal copilot and Flight 9268 was destroyed by a terrorist bomb.
The two operational domestic airlines in the country, Starbow and Africa World Airliners (AWA), have received the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate — a measure of the sound safety, management and quality control systems of the two operators.
The IOSA is the benchmark for global safety management in airlines. All IATA members are registered and must remain registered in order to maintain IATA membership.
About 24 airlines operate within the West African sub-region with a relatively young population of about 300 million. However, though operational efficiency and safety is high among various airlines in Ghana and the sub-region, just five airlines are IATA-certified.
Aside from the two Ghanaian carriers, Nigerian airlines Arik and Aero, and Lomé-based Asky Airlines are the other IOSA certified airlines.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — the global trade association for the airline industry with over 250 member-airlines which comprise 84% of total air transport — the IOSA programme is an internationally recognised and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline.
The attainment of IOSA certification means that indigenous carriers can now compete favourably with their peers in the sub-region for big-ticket international-organisation clients.
It will also make it possible for them — Starbow and AWA — to enter into commercial agreements with foreign carriers like KLM, Lufthansa, BA, Tap Portugal, Emirates and others to handle passengers travelling on itineraries that require multiple airlines.
For instance, passengers travelling from Frankfurt in Germany to Kumasi via Accra or from London to Takoradi through Accra. Domestic carriers can partner foreign airlines to operate the domestic end of such travellers’ itineraries.
“We intend to deepen our partnership with South African Airways (SAA) given the attainment of IOSA certification. One of the things that was preventing us from doing the code share was getting this IOSA certificate. So once we have it, we are working at deepening it so we have a better code share,” said Samuel Thompson, Chief Operations Officer of AWA.
“Our current fleet is not very suitable for the regional flights so we are looking at getting something bigger, like a medium-haul aircraft with a seat range of about 120-160, then we will start doing Lagos, Abuja, Monrovia and Freetown. We will still do what we are doing and improve on our safety, management systems, and our quality management systems,” he added.
Mr. Eric Antwi, the Chief Executive Officer of Starbow — whose company received its IOSA certificate in September 2015, noted that: “When this is through it will increase our business with other airline service providers who will give us passengers and vice versa.
“We are happy to be among the listed airlines which include major intercontinental and regional carriers that have successfully gone through this rigorous auditing process.”
The IOSA certification audit is an internationally recognised and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline, with emphasis on universally accepted best practices in the Airline industry.
IOSA uses internationally recognised audit principles and is designed to conduct audits in a standardised and consistent manner.
Global logistics and transportation firms have expanded operations in Africa despite infrastructure challenges — or because of them — in a sector that holds huge potential and opportunities for investors, according to a guest column in AfricaTimes by entrepreneur and legal consultant Erukilede Julius.
The shipping numbers speak to the positive outlook for Africa’s logistics business, said Charles Brewer, managing director of DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa, a leading logistics company. In light of the economic pressure Europe is experiencing, DHL’s dependency on Europe has been reduced, while Intra-Africa trade has picked up significantly, Brewer said.
E-commerce has helped to grow African logistics business. More Africans are buying online rather than at physical shops. The size of the outsourced logistics market in Africa has grown by 38.4 percent in the last four years.
But sub-Saharan Africa remains a challenging frontier for many companies, despite recent growth and investment in the sector, according to the 2016 Agility Emerging Market Logistics Index report. More than 43 percent of the 1,100 global logistics industry executives surveyed said they have no plans to set up in Africa; 21.2 percent said their companies have operations in the region. Another 12.7 percent said they plan to enter African markets.
Africa probably isn’t the best destination for companies looking for fast returns, Julius said. For businesses with a long view, it holds huge potential. “The continent needs better transport infrastructure, more connectivity across borders, and an improved business environment.”
Other than South Africa’s relatively developed transport and logistics infrastructure, African countries are struggling. Roads are the most common mode of transport, but are poorly developed. Regional road and rail networks are few and far between. Just 27.6 percent of Africa’s 2 million kilometres of roads are paved, according to a 2008 report by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).
Of those paved roads, 19 percent are in sub-Saharan Africa, versus 27 percent in Latin America and 43 percent in South Asia. Just fixing the existing thousands of kilometers of roads that need attention will require huge investment.
Absence of good roads makes transportation and logistics expensive in Africa. Transport costs throughout Africa average 14 percent of the value of exports compared to 8.6 percent in all developing countries, and can be as high as 50 percent of export value for Africa’s 15 landlocked countries –56 percent for Malawi, 52 percent for Chad, and 48 percent for Rwanda, according to the OECD report.
Moving goods across borders can cost official and unofficial fees that amount to extortion.
In Africa, it takes 39 days to export a container of goods including documentation, inland travel, customs clearance, and port or terminal handling compared to 26 days in East Asia or 15 days in high-income OECD countries, according to World Bank’s Doing Business report. Shipping costs an average $2,201 per container compared to the median estimate of $864 for East and Pacific Asia countries.
This is where businesses with long-term strategies can get rich. Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa are the most promising logistics markets in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the 2016 Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index.
Transportation and logistics of food and agri-business will be key, according to Analytiqa. Facilitating this trade will require improvements in cold-storage services.
“There is a huge amount of optimism from (third-party logistics providers) about the future of logistics markets across Africa, as economic growth drives stronger consumer demand and creates higher market attractiveness for retailers and manufacturers alike,” said Analytiqa research director Mark O’Bornick.
If Africans don’t identify these opportunities and take advantage of them, foreigners will, Julius said.
“After the launch of the Kiira EV — an electric car and Kiira EV SMACK — East Africa’s first hybrid vehicle, Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) on Sunday did the first test drive of its solar-powered bus at Mandela Stadium in Wakiso.
The bus, code-named ‘Kayoola’, is a 35-passenger bus with power banks, which give it a range of 80km when fully charged. It also has solar panels on its roof, which give it a daily range extension of 12km.
“This is typical for the Ntinda, Bukoto, Kampala Road and Nakawa Ring Road, and it can be done for eight rounds a day,” said Paul Musasizi, the KMC chief executive officer.
Musasizi said the project which started in 2011, was initiated to explore the possibilities of using solar technology to support the mass transportation that Ugandans commonly use.
“We wanted to investigate those opportunities, particularly because Uganda being one of the 13 countries positioned along the Equator, gives us about eight hours of significant solar energy that can be harvested.
“Interestingly, these 13 countries along the Equator do not include the US, China, Germany, UK or South Africa that are the major car manufacturers in the world,” Musasizi noted.
It is against this background that the Kayoola solar bus project was meticulously executed.
The chassis is made of steel, its aisle of sheet metal and it also has pipe elements and square sections. Its seats are also made of steel and covered in cream leather.
Musasizi said 90% of the material was from Roofings Uganda Ltd, except for the synthetic leather, tyres, the steering wheel and software that were imported. All white, the bus has a crested crane emblem at the front.
“The development of the Kayoola Solar Bus represents our commitment to championing the progressive development of local capacity for vehicle technology innovation, a key ingredient for institutionalising a sustainable vehicle manufacturing industry in Uganda,” said Prof. Tickodri Togboa, the Minister of State for Higher Education, Science and Technology, while officiating at the inaugural media expo.
He said the vehicle, now an indispensable element of our daily lives, will provide an alternative locally-sourced, eco-friendly public transport solution.
“A regional standard has been raised in technological environmental sustainability. The Kayoola sets a precedent and inspirational trend for the technological future of urban mobility for the East and Central African region,” said Togboa.
At a glance
The Kiira Motors project is an industrial development intervention supported through the Presidential initiative for Science and Technology Innovations.
The project is aimed at establishing vehicle manufacturing capabilities in Uganda for pickups, SUVs, sedans, light and medium duty trucks and buses. This is expected to transform Uganda into a middle-income economy by 2040 through providing a platform with high intellectual convergence of disciplines.
Its official launch shall take place on February 16 at Kampala Serena Hotel and it will be presided over by President Yoweri Museveni.
Musasizi said the first 305 cars from KMC are expected to be rolled off the assembly line by 2018, if all the necessary infrastructure and human resources are put in place. Fifty thousand more units will be produced by 2039. On May 15 2014, the Kiira EV project received 100 acres of land at the Jinja industrial and business park and its capacity is 60,000 units.Many people took to social media to celebrate the innovation.
Asuman Balaba said it was a good initiative and hoped it would be affordable for Ugandans to buy.
Ronald Kiwalabye said: “This is amazing. You have done Uganda proud.”
Enos Shakoma said much as the bus looks good, he wondered whether it could stand the poor roads in some parts of the country.
On the other hand, Ian Ken was pleased with the neutral colour of the bus.
As part of expanding the footprint of the MyCiTi service, Cape Town will purchase electric buses, according to mayor Patricia De Lille.
De Lille says the city will issue a tender for the procurement of electric buses for the MyCiTi service in line with the commitment to lowering carbon emissions.
“A tender for the procurement of a fleet of 12-metre electric buses is due to be advertised by the first week of February 2016,” she says in a statement.
She adds: “Cities across the world will soon reach a point where alternative fuel for public transport is no longer a choice but a prerequisite, and as such, the City of Cape Town has decided to expand our current fleet of diesel buses with electric ones.”
The terms of the tender specify the electric buses should be able to travel at least 250km in traffic before the batteries need recharging.
“Apart from the buses, the successful bidder must also provide the city with the charging stations for the buses and the necessary training for the bus drivers and mechanical engineers,” De Lille notes.
The city is also considering electric double-decker buses for longer distance trips as they have more seating, she explains.
In his research paper, Anthony Dane, from the Energy Research Centre at the University of Cape Town, says as the demand for transport services is expected to grow, the industry needs to reduce its significant environmental impact and at the same time deliver improved mobility in a way that contributes towards South Africa’s sustainable development objectives.
According to De Lille, Cape Town’s move to issue a tender for electric buses is part of the city’s Energy 2040 Strategy as well as a way to show commitment to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions.
Cape Town will be the first municipality in the country to benefit from the latest alternative fuel technology and will be the first city in Africa to use electric buses for public transport, she says.
“Apart from electric buses being eco-friendly with zero carbon emissions if we use solar power charging stations, a green fleet holds numerous other advantages.
“The operational cost of electric buses is significantly lower – not only in terms of fuel, but also in relation to maintenance as there are fewer parts to service,” De Lille states.
Since the launch of the MyCiTi bus service in 2010, approximately 38.5 million passenger journeys have been recorded to date.
South Africa’s transport sector, despite accounting for 60% of total logistics costs, could be nearing a stalemate. Owners and operators, even at their most efficient, are at the mercy of escalating road tariffs, upped driver fees, rising maintenance costs, and, of course, erratic fuel prices. For transport-hungry South Africa, the well-being of its logistics sector is crucial.
“We are running out of options,” cautioned Zane Simpson in his presentationof the Logistics Barometer, launched in June 2015 by Stellenbosch University.
Logistics embraces not only the transportation of goods or people, but the organisation of all links in an immense supply chain – from source to warehousing, inventory, and even security. It is therefore not only transportation methods that need a rethink, but changes to all the links that impact rising costs.
A farm nearer the fork
Different to Europe, where most agricultural goods are produced within a small kilometre radius of the point of sale, South Africa’s transport distances are extensive, compounded further by inland mineral reserves that must be transported to seaports. Inland Gauteng especially has a high demand for goods, requiring long-distance carriage.
Based on the current rate of demand growth, freight is likely to triple over the next three decades from the current 781 million tons moved annually. “Imagine three times the number of trucks on our road network and the impact this would have on road infrastructure, traffic and delivery times. If we don’t change, a system shock is inevitable,” explained Simpson.
“What we can still change is behaviour on the demand side. Consumers are spoilt for choice,” says Simpson. “By demanding less variety, consumers will inevitably reduce the amount of transport needed, saving money, resulting in less road congestion, and ultimately benefiting our environment. The logistics industry too must be transparent about these benefits.”
Consider all options
“There has to be a change in the way goods flow between points; whether it be driven by technology or by this reduction in the variety of brands and options on offer to consumers.”
In cases where no alternative exists other than to convey goods over long distances, Intermodal transport (moving containers using multiple transport modes) could have a dramatic impact but requires significant investment into rail systems. “The future,” says Simpson, “would have to include a fixed mode of transport.” Simpson and his team proposes that all other conveyance options; alternative technologies, even the unconventional, need be considered.
“3D printing items close to source, for example, rather than having to transport from afar would help to reduce transport demand and subsequent costs. Seemingly ridiculous ideas even, such as building a canal between KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, long distance conveyor belts, or drones, need to become part of mainstream conversations if we are to reduce logistics costs,” he says.
“Overall, instead of trying to reduce transport costs in isolation, we need to work hard at economic growth, which will solve more problems than just increasing logistics costs,” Simpson says.
China and South Africa signed deals totalling $6.5bn during President Xi’s four-day tour of the country last week.
Among the agreements is a $2.5bn loan to Transnet, South Africa’s state-owned rail operator, and a $500m loan for the Eskom, the hard pressed state power company, for nuclear co-operation.
The loans will also be used to buy Chinese made mechanical and electrical equipment.
During the visit Xi sought to reassure his hosts that China would still act as the prime mover for Africa’s economies, both in terms of investment and as a market for African raw materials.
“China and South Africa are large developing countries and emerging markets, and we are good friends and good brothers who understand and support each other with equality and mutual trust, comprehensive cooperation, win-win reciprocity and common development,” Xi said, according to a communiqué from the Chinese embassy in South Africa.
The recent slowing of the Chinese economy, and a fall of 40% in Chinese investment in the first half of the year has caused concern in Africa.
Earlier in the week, Xi visited Zimbabwe, a stop that resulted in the signing of 10 economic agreements, including the expansion of the southern African nation’s largest thermal power plant.
Isolated from the west, Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe has turned to China for investment in transport, power and water. Now the China’s Export Import Bank has agreed to provide more than $1bn for a 600MW expansion of Hwange thermal power station, to be undertaken by China’s Sinohydro.
The funding is the final element of the $1.5bn deal, which was agreed in principle in October last year.