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Spain's $25 billion battle to build a road to Africa

Written by Bruno Teles
Published 17/06/2024 às 13:48
Spain's $25 billion battle to build a road to Africa
Spain faces a $25 billion challenge to build a road that connects the country to Africa. Understand the reasons and difficulties of this ambitious construction. Image: Bricklayer in Construction/Disclosure

Spain faces a $25 billion challenge to build a road that connects the country to Africa. Understand the reasons and difficulties of this ambitious construction.

Imagine a bridge so long that it connects two continents, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, between Spain and Morocco. This narrow stretch of water, just 13 km wide at its narrowest point, separates Europe from Africa. Despite several proposals over the decades, no bridge or tunnel construction was ever undertaken to span this crucial distance.

The Strait of Gibraltar is a vital point where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. More than 100.000 ships pass through it each year, making it an important route for global trade. Construction to connect Europe and Africa through a bridge or tunnel could bring enormous economic benefits, facilitating trade, tourism and symbolizing the union between the continents.

Building a bridge or tunnel across the Strait of Gibraltar is an incredibly challenging task. Here are some of the main obstacles:

Depth of the Strait: At the narrowest point, the water is about 365 meters deep. Bridging such a deep rift would require massive foundations, which is technically complex and expensive.

Powerful currents: The strait acts as a natural funnel between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, with strong currents making underwater construction extremely difficult. Workers would face constant water movements, making precise construction difficult.

Maritime traffic: More than 100.000 ships, including large cargo ships and oil tankers, pass through the strait each year. A bridge would have to be high enough to allow these ships to pass, requiring a robust design to withstand possible collisions and constant vibrations.

Seismic risk: The Strait of Gibraltar is located on the boundary between the Eurasian and African tectonic plates, an area prone to earthquakes. Any structure would need to be designed to withstand significant seismic activity.

Building a tunnel under the strait is another idea that has been considered.

However, this also presents challenges. The strait's bed is highly unstable, composed of soft, mobile sediments that can shift under pressure. Advanced engineering and construction techniques would be required to safely excavate and maintain the integrity of the tunnel.

In addition to technical challenges, there are significant political and financial barriers. The relationship between Spain and Morocco is marked by historical tensions and territorial disputes, complicating the cooperation necessary for a project of this magnitude. Furthermore, the estimated cost of building a bridge or tunnel ranges from 5 to 20 billion dollars, requiring substantial investments from both governments and possibly international investors.

Despite the challenges, there is hope that advances in engineering and technology could make the project viable in the future

Political landscapes can change, allowing better cooperation between countries. There is even a potential $25 billion plan in development to realize this connection, promising to revolutionize transport between Europe and Africa.

The construction of a road that connects Spain to Africa is a monumental undertaking, full of technical, political and financial challenges. However, the potential economic and symbolic benefits make this dream an exciting possibility for the future.

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Bruno Teles

I talk about technology, innovation, oil and gas. I update daily about opportunities in the Brazilian market. Agenda suggestion? Send it to brunotelesredator@gmail.com

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