China’s capital unveiled the “shining example” of its 80 billion yuan ($12 billion) new airport on Monday, tipped to become one of the world’s largest when it opens in October 2019 amid a massive infrastructure drive overseen by President Xi Jinping.
Representatives showed off the sprawling skeleton of “Beijing New Airport”, which is made up of 1.6 million cubic meters of concrete, 52,000 tonnes of steel and spans a total 47 sq km (18 sq miles), including runways.
It is expected to serve an initial 45 million passengers a year with an eventual capacity of 100 million, putting it on par with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
“Lined up together there’s roughly 5 km of gates,” said project spokesman Zhu Wenxin. “It’s a shining example of China’s national production capacity.”
Updates on the airport come as the ruling Communist Party is set to open its 19th congress later this week, a twice-a-decade leadership event where Xi will consolidate power and emphasize successful projects and policy from his first five years.
The project, which broke ground in 2014, is one of the region’s largest infrastructure investments under Xi’s rule, which has been plagued by fears of slowing economic growth, offset slightly by a construction spree.
China has sought to boost its profile as both an aviation hub and a manufacturer in recent years. The country’s first home-grown passenger jet, the C919, lifted off on its maiden flight in May, edging into a multibillion-dollar market currently dominated by Boeing and Airbus SE.
Situated 67 km south of Beijing, the airport technically falls in neighboring Hebei province, though it will eventually constitute its own development zone.
It will relieve pressure on Beijing’s existing international airport, to the northeast of Beijing and currently the world’s second largest by passenger volume, which opened a new terminal worth $3.6 billion (£2.7 billion) in 2008 ahead of the Beijing Summer Olympics.
The existing airport will continue to operate major international flights, though a third smaller domestic airport in the city’s south will close in coming years. Two of China’s three major airlines, China Eastern Airlines Corp and China Southern Airlines Co, will relocate to the airport on completion, accounting for roughly four-fifths of the new airport’s total traffic.
The airport will be connected to Beijing by a high speed train with a top speed of 350 km an hour, as well as an inter-city train and a major expressway. Original plans for the airport were made by French airports operator Aeroports de Paris, though third-party improvements to the original version make the final design “wholly domestic”, said Zhu.
“It’s like a large flower, but made of steel,” said one construction worker on the site, who declined to share his name because he was not authorized to speak to press.
Uuumm .. that’s a toughie. But we really should know so we can drop it into conversation in a casually cool way – I always find listing the 54 African countries by GDP in 2017 makes me pretty popular – and I want to give you too the chance to gain a reputation for exciting repartee.
What do we know ? Based on the dodgy exchange rates being used in Egypt until November 2016 and in Nigeria/Ethiopia/Angola etc all year – Nigeria was the largest economy in Africa in 2016, followed by Egypt and then SA. All of Africa had a similar GDP to India, but was not as big as California. That goes a long way to explaining relative news coverage.
Source: IMF with a little help from Renaissance Capital
What about 2017 ? “We have a problem here Captain” as Scottie would have said because we just worked out that the IMF is using an average exchange rate for Nigeria of 304/$ for its GDP estimates.
Now I like the IMF resident a lot – but I think this is hard to justify. The I and E fx window rate has averaged 368/$ from 25 April to 11 October. What about Jan-Apr? Do we use the parallel market rate that hit as weak as 520/$ in early 2017, or the Naira rate quoted on Bloomberg which was 313/$ ?
In the graph below, we show both Nigeria using the IMF figure, and Nigeria using a 367/$ average. If you believe the IMF, Nigeria was number 1. If you think 367/$ is more realistic, it was number 2 and SA swept past both Egypt* and Nigeria to take number 1 slot again. Humble South Africans can once again stand tall, arm in arm with President Zuma, a man who has helped ensure per capita GDP in 2017 is not above the lofty heights it achieved in 2007. To be fair to Zuma, Brexit has helped push UK per capita GDP back to below 2006 levels. This must be a deliberate part of the UK charm offensive to rebuild links to the old Empire so that will help make Britain great again. *at least Nigeria has an IMF implied exchange rate, Egypt doesn’t let the IMF publish one, so you are relying on us for that figure
Meanwhile Ethiopia cleverly timed its devaluation until just after the IMF publication so it can lay claim to 8th place .. when the deval probably means it is 9th behind Kenya.
Source: IMF with a lot more interference from RenCap in this one
What about GDP per capita ? Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Ivory Coast are all in roughly the same place – just ahead of Bangladesh – with wealth levels double that of Rwanda or Uganda. Of these, Kenya, Ghana and southern Nigeria are best placed to industrialize in the same way that southern Bangladesh has.
I tested this last chart on twitter and the instant response is … “not Equatorial Guinea”. Fair enough, the average per capita GDP may bear no relation at all to GDP per person once the boss has nabbed all the oil wealth. But the point is, India is mid-way between countries like Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, and positive themes should be found in a few of them.
Re the Kenyan elections – what we heard at our East Africa conference is that President Kenyatta would probably win a re-run, especially if Odinga boycotted the second round.
Source: IMF, Renaissance Capital, World Bank (for Somalia population)
CONCLUSION: GDP per capita has probably bottomed now in Egypt, Nigeria and a fair few others. The next move should be up again as we enter 2018. Nigeria may have lost out to SA in terms of being the largest economy in Africa in 2017 (let’s see what happens to the ZAR by year-end) but this SA resurgence won’t last for too long. We continue to see Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Ghana and Kenya as among those best placed to industrialize in the coming years.