Inaugural STC meeting on Energy, Transport and Tourism kicks off in Togo
The First Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructures, Energy and Tourism (TIIIET) kicked-off on Monday in Lomé (Togo) amidst reiterated calls for mobilizing sustainable means of adequate financing for infrastructure development in the continent.
Mr. Cheikh Bedda, Director of Infrastructure and Energy, in his welcoming remarks said the theme for the first STC meeting “Financing Infrastructure in Africa,” has been selected in consideration of the huge challenge of mobilising colossal financial resources required to improve infrastructure in Africa to the level expected to support Africa’s development aspirations under the AU Agenda 2063.
Mr. Bedda intimated “we are expected to make concrete proposals on means of financing infrastructure projects including mobilisation of investments for the preparation, structuring, implementation and risk mitigation of climate resilient infrastructure projects.”
On his part, the Director of the Capacity Development Division of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Dr. Stephen Karingi focused mainly on the issue of infrastructure development, and the role ECA plays in support of the African agenda, especially in partnership with the AUC and other continental and Sub-regional bodies.
Dr. Karingi echoed that over the years, the ECA has been in partnership with AUC and other continental and Sub-regional bodies in furthering the African infrastructure agenda. Citing one example of such partnership, Dr. Karingi highlighted “ECA at the request of African heads of state, undertook a comprehensive mapping of all policies, law and regulations pertaining to investment in infrastructure in Africa to facilitate private sector investment in transboundary infrastructure in Africa; A regional framework has been finalized and will soon be submitted to the AU Assembly for approval”.
The representative of the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA), Mr. Amos Phiri also recognized the importance of raising domestic resources for investment in infrastructure and to find innovative ways to structure project financing so as to close the infrastructure funding gap.
The workshop was officially opened by His Excellency Prof. Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and African Integration of Togo, who concurred that infrastructure financing remains a major concern for Africa, which will be a united, prosperous and integrated by 2063, hence “investment in infrastructure and enhanced public-private partnerships in Africa will be needed to meet the major challenges facing the continent”.
The first STC-TIIIET is convened to implement the AU Assembly Decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.227 (XII)), which reconfigured the existing STCs and created one on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructures, Energy and Tourism.
The meeting convened over 350 experts from Ministries responsible for transport (i.e. Air, Road, Railway and Maritime Transport), energy and tourism sectors from all AU Member States, the Regional Economic Communities, the regional development banks and financial institutions, the continental specialized organizations, academia, private sector and civil society, and representatives from the development partners and international organizations involved in energy, transport and tourism.
Over three days, the Experts will consider and deliberate on a number of issues on their agenda including: innovative financing and domestic funds mobilization strategies of major transcontinental, interregional and national infrastructure projects in the energy, transport and tourism sectors, and strengthening and promoting national and regional capacities for projects preparation.
As part of the STC meeting, a Pan African Investment Forum, featuring high-level Ministerial panel discussions will be held to exchange views on the best ways of stimulating investments in infrastructure development in the continent.
The Experts will also consider the implementation of the PIDA/PAP, the implementation status of the Decisions and Declarations adopted at the previous ministerial conferences and AU Assembly sessions on transport, energy and tourism, strategies on making Africa the Preferred Destination for Tourism under the AU Agenda 2063, adoption of infrastructure programs and initiatives as well as action plans to be undertaken up to the next STC meeting at national, regional and continental levels.
The Experts Session will end on Thursday, and will present its conclusions and recommendations to the Ministerial Session which opens on Friday, 17th March 2017.
The outcomes of the First STC-TIIIET will be submitted to the forthcoming Summit of the AU Assembly to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 2017.