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Stability key to development

Updated: 2014-02-21 09:52
By Li Aoxue ( China Daily Africa)

 Stability key to development

China Hyway Group's staff members work on a rail track in Africa. The company has businesses covering several industries in Mozambique, Angola, Guinea and South Sudan. Photos provided to China Daily

Chinese businessman fulfills a dream by building infrastructure in Africa

Thirty years ago, Liu Daiwen helped build roads, railways and bridges around China. Now he builds infrastructure in Africa.

Stability key to development

Liu, 57, chairman of China Hyway Group Limited, a company that has businesses spanning several industries such as construction, mining, manufacturing, furniture and steel in Mozambique, Angola, Guinea and South Sudan, says the construction business in Africa will continue developing for the next 10 to 20 years.

Liu, a former branch head at China Railway Construction Corporation Limited, a well-known state enterprise, says the construction market in Africa is full of potential amid some challenges.

"It took 20 years for China to become developed in infrastructure after China's reform and opening-up policy was implemented, and I believe it's the same for Africa," Liu says.

Liu says the current challenge for building infrastructure in Africa is the political instability.

"Once, equipment worth 100 million yuan ($16.48 million) was on its way to South Sudan for an infrastructure project, but because of unrest at the site we had to move it," Liu says.

"But I believe the situation will become better and infrastructure will still need to get developed anyway."

Stability key to development

Entering the African market in 2008, Hyway Group has finished the Mocamedes Railway project, one of the three main railway lines in Angola, which begins at Namibe Harbor in the Atlantic and reaches Menongue in the east, with total length of 1,003 kilometers and 56 stations.

It has also completed road construction projects in Ethiopia, such as the Gedo-Nekemt (130 km), Mekenajo-Ayra (53 km) and Chanka-Dembidolo (63 km).

Jose Eduardo dos Santos, president of Angola, says the design of the Mocamedes Railway is artistic and practical, the quality is good, and the project's functional facility is complete.

"Liu and his company have really done something that improves the development of the country and people's lives," Santos says. "They finished the project on time, and we were impressed with the hard working spirit of the Chinese people."

In addition, Hyway Group has built nine bridges and more than 20 houses in Angola.

Liu's business has employed up to 20,000 African workers. With 80 percent of Hyway's business in Africa, the enterprises have an annual output of $1.4 billion.

"Our next plan is to built up more manufacturing factories in Africa," Liu says.

Liu says developing Africa's manufacturing industry is a must as it will make African people less dependent on exports.

Stability key to development

Liu owns several manufacturing factories in the fields of furniture, steel, brick and coating in Angola and Mozambique. He says these are not only used for Hyway's construction projects, but also for Africa's domestic market.

Agricultural development in some parts of Africa would help develop the continent's economy, Liu says.

For example, he says Angola used to be a big agricultural export country before it was colonized by Portugal.

"Our next plan is to develop an agricultural business in Angola and Mozambique, as it can provide food for the local people and also develop into an export industry that brings benefits to the local people."

Liu's company is also keen on doing resource exploitation in Africa. In Guinea, the company is working on an iron mining zone that covers 3,000 square kilometers.

"Africa is full of resources. If these resources can be explored and developed properly, it could not only bring economic benefit to the local people but also help develop the local economy," Liu says.

Before establishing Hyway group, Liu worked at China Railway Construction Corporation for almost 30 years, eventually becoming director of a bureau. It was around that time that he began looking for new challenges. In 2007, he left the company and established Hyway with some of his friends.

"The enterprise was established during a time when the Chinese government encouraged enterprises to go abroad and develop themselves," Liu says. "A lot of SOEs went abroad with the support of the government and banks, but for medium and small-sized companies, there were a lot of challenges and difficulties ahead."

Liu plans to help these medium and small-sized enterprises by using the networks he established while working at the CRCC. Hyway has developed into a company that covers fields including infrastructure, trade, logistics, real estate, ecological agriculture, investment and financing in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Southeast Asia.

"When Hyway was established, we wanted to make it an international company and develop our business all over the world," Liu says.

Apart from maintaining stable growth in Angola, Ethiopia and Mozambique, Liu plans to explore the manufacturing and resource markets in South Sudan, Namibia and Guinea.

Stability key to development

Liu says having a business in Africa has brought commercial benefits and, most importantly, connected him with the local people. He still remembers the hugs he received from locals after the Mocamedes Railways was completed.

"You can feel the sincere thanks from the African people, as they know you have done something that really helped them," Liu says.

Liu says Africa has the freshest air and most beautiful scenery in the world. During visits to African countries, he not only looks for business opportunities, but also enjoys the environment. In his spare time, he grows plants and vegetables at his factories in Africa, something he said he could never do in China.

"Africans have a strong connection with nature," Liu says.

"I guess now what I am doing is fulfilling my dream," Liu says. "Previously I built infrastructure for China, now I am doing this for Africa."


(China Daily Africa Weekly 02/21/2014 page19)

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