Israeli infrastructure company Tahal, a subsidiary of Kardan NV, has gained yet another major foothold in Africa with a new agreement to build three agricultural development projects in Angola, worth $291 million. Another project has been signed with Zambia for the construction of a large scale agricultural and water project. Together with ZRB, Tahal’s partner for ventures in the region, the planned 14,000-acre agricultural settlement in Zambia is worth $176 million- to be equally divided between the two. The revenue from the projects should raise Tahal’s existing orders backlog to over $1 billion.
The three-year project in Zambia will involve the construction a settlement with hundreds of private and commercial farms with full power and water infrastructure. Alongside greenhouses, poultry houses, packing and storage structures, a marketing center, laboratories and facilities for community, education, health and social services, a logistical center and a training center the Israeli company will develop roads, drainage and irrigation systems in the area.
The agreement follows earlier statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on strengthening relations with Africa- a lucrative market considering six of the fastest growing countries are part of the continent and that over half of the urban infrastructure to make up African cities by 2035 has yet to be built, with a 3.65% annual urbanization rate. Financially, Africa poses an opportunity for foreign investors like Tahal, especially in water and agriculture- the Achilles’ heel of the region and a source for perpetual poverty. The low productivity rate means Africa spends $35 million on food imports, often thanks to unpredictable rain patterns and insufficient and ineffective water infrastructure.
According to this year’s WWDR report, 319 million people do not have access to improved water resources and 695 million do not have access to basic sanitation- which requires investment in wastewater management. One of the key elements to solving the Africa’s water problems is the establishment of adequate financial mechanisms- that’s where companies like Tahal come in. It’s not a secret that many believe future African cities will be built by foreign interests, and Tahal’s involvement seems like a step in that direction.