Land rush around Pakistan’s Gwadar port triggered by Chinese investment

Land rush around Pakistan’s Gwadar port triggered by Chinese investment
A view of the old port in Gwadar, Pakistan. (Reuters)
Updated 19 February 2018

Land rush around Pakistan’s Gwadar port triggered by Chinese investment

Land rush around Pakistan’s Gwadar port triggered by Chinese investment

LAHORE: Pakistani real estate giant Rafi Group made a 10-fold profit last year from its sale of hundreds of acres of land in the remote fishing town of Gwadar, acquired soon after the government announced plans for a deep-sea port there.
The windfall came after 12 years of waiting patiently for the Gwadar port to emerge as the centerpiece of China’s ambitious plans for a trade and energy corridor stretching from the Arabian Gulf, across Pakistan, into western Xinjiang.
“We had anticipated the Chinese would need a route to the Arabian Sea,” Rafi Group Chief Executive Shehriar Rafi told Reuters. “And today, all routes lead back to Gwadar.”
Gwadar forms the southern Pakistan hub of a $57-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) of infrastructure and energy projects Beijing announced in 2014.
Since then, land prices have skyrocketed as property demand has spiked, and dozens of real estate firms want to cash in.
“Gwadar is a ‘Made in China’ brand and everyone wants a piece,” said realtor Afzal Adil, one of several who shifted operations from the eastern city of Lahore in 2015.
Last year, Pakistan welcomed the first large shipment of Chinese goods at Gwadar, where the China Overseas Ports Holding Company Ltd. took over operations in 2013. It plans to eventually handle 300 million to 400 million tons of cargo a year.
It also aims to develop seafood processing plants in a nearby free trade zone sprawled over 923 hectares (2,281 acres).
The route through Gwadar offers China its shortest path to the oil-rich Middle East, Africa, and most of the western hemisphere, besides promising to open up remote, landlocked Xinjiang.
2 million jobs
Last year, the Applied Economics Research Center estimated the corridor would create 700,000 jobs in Pakistan and a Chinese newspaper recently put the number at more than 2 million.
Authorities have completed an expressway through Gwadar, which has a 350-km road network. A new international airport kicks off next year, to handle an influx of hundreds of Chinese traders and officials expected to live near the port.
The volume of Gwadar property searches surged 14-fold on Pakistan’s largest real estate database, Zameen.com, between 2014 and 2016, up from a prior rate of a few hundred a month.
“It’s like a gold rush,” said Chief Executive Zeeshan Ali Khan. “Anyone who is interested in real estate, be it an investor or a developer, is eyeing Gwadar.”
Prices, which have risen two- to four-fold on average, are climbing “on a weekly basis,” said Saad Arshed, the Pakistan managing director of online real estate marketplace Lamudi.pk.
Regional fishermen have held strikes during the last two years, to protest against being displaced by the port.
To keep pace with the interest, urban officials are struggling to computerize land management and record-keeping. “We are trying to upgrade as fast as we can,” said Zakir Majeed, an official of the Gwadar Development Authority (GDA).
But Gwadar lacks basic education and health facilities, in contrast to the gleaming towers and piped drinking water of the “smart city” envisioned by the GDA.
“For commercial projects, things are moving fast,” Lamudi’s Arshed said. “But people actually living there, that will take a long time.”
Port officials expect the population to hit 2 million over the next two decades, from about 185,000 now.
Risk
The government commissioned work on the Gwadar port in 2002, but development was held up by chronic instability in the surrounding resource-rich province of Baluchistan, where ethnic separatist rebels have chafed against a military crackdown.
Since China announced the corridor plan in 2014, security has improved, with Pakistan setting up a new army division to ensure protection, while hundreds of rebels surrendered arms.
Real estate firms dismiss fears the “Gwadar bubble” might still burst, pointing to China’s enduring interest.
“The risk is always there,” Rafi said. “But our confidence comes from knowing this is not a Pakistani initiative, but a Chinese city on the Arabian Sea coast. And the Chinese will see that it is built.”


SABIC, BASF discuss plastics circular economy in Riyadh

SABIC, BASF discuss plastics circular economy in Riyadh
Updated 23 June 2021

SABIC, BASF discuss plastics circular economy in Riyadh

SABIC, BASF discuss plastics circular economy in Riyadh
  • SABIC is working with UK-based company Plastic Energy to build its first commercial unit in Geleen
  • Chemicals giant focuses on recycling plastics

RIYADH: SABIC and BASF, two of the world’s largest chemical producers, met in Riyadh to share insights into their respective programs to develop circular economy solutions for the plastics industry.
SABIC shared progress it has made with TRUCIRCLE, a collection of processes that allow for the certification of polymers created through recycling of used and mixed plastic, certified bio-based renewable polymers, certified renewable polycarbonate (PC), and mechanically recycled polymers.
BASF discussed ChemCycling, a project to develop a pyrolysis technology that turns plastic waste into a secondary raw material called pyrolysis oil. The German multinational also explained how its plastic additives facilitate mechanical recycling of plastics.
SABIC is working with UK-based company Plastic Energy to build its first commercial unit in Geleen, The Netherlands, which will produce TRUCIRCLE certified circular polymers from recycled plastic.
“TRUCIRCLE has been introduced as a way to collectively showcase our circular innovations and help manufacturers reduce plastic waste through the adoption of a range of sustainable material solutions,” said Mark Vester, SABIC’ global leader circular economy. “It forms part of our circular economy business and is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Responsible Consumption and Production.”


Humvee maker strikes military vehicle deal with Egypt

Humvee maker strikes military vehicle deal with Egypt
Updated 23 June 2021

Humvee maker strikes military vehicle deal with Egypt

Humvee maker strikes military vehicle deal with Egypt
  • The company will study the feasibility of developing an in-country assembly and manufacturing capability to allow Egypt to replace or supplement its existing Humvee fleet

DUBAI: Humvee manufacturer AM General has struck an initial agreement to help develop the production of military vehicles in Egypt.
The deal with the Egyptian Ministry of Military Production is expected to become a long term partnership to develop and build tactical vehicles in-country, the US-based company said in a statement on Wednesday.
The company will study the feasibility of developing an in-country assembly and manufacturing capability to allow Egypt to replace or supplement its existing Humvee fleet.
“Today’s signing ceremony further solidifies our long-standing relationship with the government of Egypt,” said AM General President CEO Andy Hove. “We look forward to applying our manufacturing and design expertise to help grow the Egyptian automotive industry.”
The agreement is part of a broader push to develop more domestic military manufacturing in Egypt which is already a major defense sector importer. Arab states are ramping up spending on local defense sector investments as part of their economic diversification agendas which aim to create more local jobs while at the same time substituting value-added imports with locally manufactured alternatives.


Oman to grant foreign investors 10-year residency

Oman to grant foreign investors 10-year residency
Updated 23 June 2021

Oman to grant foreign investors 10-year residency

Oman to grant foreign investors 10-year residency
  • Program is open to foreign retirees

RIYADH: Oman has announced a new program under which foreign investors are granted long-term residency, Asharq reported citing a statement by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion.

The Investor Residence program will be for a period of five to 10 years, subject to renewal, and is open to foreign retirees, the ministry said.

The program, starting in September, aims to attract quality investments according to clear and specific controls.


Abu Dhabi commissions solar farm in West Africa’s Togo

Abu Dhabi commissions solar farm in West Africa’s Togo
Updated 23 June 2021

Abu Dhabi commissions solar farm in West Africa’s Togo

Abu Dhabi commissions solar farm in West Africa’s Togo
  • The Mohamed Bin Zayed Solar PV Complex is expected to power around 158,000 homes and businesses in the country

DUBAI: An Abu Dhabi-funded solar plant in Togo, West Africa is now fully operational, state news agency WAM reported.

The Mohamed Bin Zayed Solar PV Complex, a 50-MW project financed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), is expected to power around 158,000 homes and businesses in the country.

The country’s first solar plant is located in Blitta, Togo, and spans around 92 hectares in the African nation’s Centrales region.

The new clean energy source will reduce the community’s reliance on firewood and charcoal, and aid Togo’s national agenda to increase renewable energy share by 50 percent by 2025, and to double it by 2030.

ADFD provided 55 million dirhams ($15 million) in concessionary loans to finance the project, which was developed by Amea Togo Solar, a subsidiary of the UAE-based clean energy developer Amea Power.

The funding is part of ADFD’s joint facility with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), where the pair vows to support the development of renewable energy projects around the world.

“Africa holds tremendous promise for renewable power generation, which can bring improved energy access and reliability of supply while creating jobs and economic opportunity,” IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera said.

In 2020, ADFD and IRENA signed loan agreements worth 121 million dirhams with the governments of Togo, Niger, and Liberia to advance clean energy in Africa.


Egypt to implement eighth increase in household electricity prices in July

Egypt to implement eighth increase in household electricity prices in July
Updated 23 June 2021

Egypt to implement eighth increase in household electricity prices in July

Egypt to implement eighth increase in household electricity prices in July
  • Prices will increase between 8 percent and 26 percent
  • Subsidies phase out extended from 2021/2 to 2024//5

RIYADH: Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy is preparing to the eighth increase in electricity prices for domestic consumption since it began phasing out subsidies in 2014.

From July 1, prices will increase between 8 percent and 26 percent, depending on the consumption segment, Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker said in an interview on Al-Balad TV.

In 2014, a decision was taken to eliminate state subsidies within five years, which was subsequently extended earlier this month to eight years to reduce the burden on customers and will now end in the fiscal year 2024/5, he said.

“When the economic reform took place in 2016, the dollar exchange rate changed dramatically, jumping from 7 Egyptian pounds to 18 Egyptian pounds, and this turned the scales completely,” said Shaker.

Fuel affects the cost of electric power the most, and whenever the dollar exchange rate changes, the fuel prices change, he said.