African countries need united action on infrastructure development – AU chairperson

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African countries need united action on infrastructure development – AU chairperson

African countries need united action on infrastructure development – AU chairperson
Photo credit: BusinessDay

AU Commission Deputy Chairperson, Erastus Mwencha, on Tuesday called on African countries to unite in implementing the continent’s approved programme for infrastructure development.

“We need to harmonise our vision and strategies and act together toward a common destination,” he told the first meeting of the Council for Infrastructure Development (CID), being held on the margins of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly.

Taking part in the meeting are ministers responsible for infrastructure development and transport as well as chief executives of regional economic communities.

Mwencha, who chaired the meeting, said that Africa’s infrastructure was one sector that has a huge deficit in terms of implementation and funding.

Underscoring the need for effective supervision of projects, he urged the CID to get involved in improving the connectedness of the continent, saying it should be seen as an action Council.

In 2012, African heads of state and government approved the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) with a resolution to undertake institutional reforms, conducive to the creation of a favourable business climate for private investment in infrastructure.

They also resolved to promote financing mechanism reflecting a commitment to speed up infrastructure development on the continent.

In the priority action plan for 2012 to 2020 of PIDA, 51 projects and programmes were identified, calling for a total investment of 68 billion dollars.

Of these ventures, 24 are in the transport sector, 15 for energy, nine for trans-boundary water and three for information, communication and technology (ICT) development.

The transport programme is aimed at linking major production and consumption centres, providing connectivity among major cities, defining the best hub ports and railway routes and opening land-locked countries to improved regional and continental trade.

According to the PIDA outlook to 2040, US$ 360 billion was required as capital cost for the development of 37,300 km of highways; 30,200 km of railways; port added ton capacity of 1.3 billion tons; 61 099 MW hydroelectric power generation; and 16,500 km power lines interconnection.

The trans-boundary water programme targets development of multipurpose dams and the capacity of lakes and river basin organisations so they can plan and develop their own water-based infrastructure, besides addressing food needs for Africa’s population.

Meanwhile, the ICT programme seeks to establish an enabling environment for completing the land fibre optic infrastructure and installing internet exchange points in countries that lack such.

Mwencha said that the one-day CID meeting was scheduled to set up an implementation mechanism for the PIDA projects and programmes toward attainment of Africa’s Agenda 2063 on the overall continental development.