Let us make Africa’s infrastructure competitive, Zimbabwean Minister
27-11-2018 07:57:00 | by: Pie Kamau | hits: 3816 | Tags:

Zimbabwe Transport and Infrastructural Development and Transport Minister Mr. Joel Biggie Matiza has urged the Africa continent to focus on infrastructure development, in particular transboundary projects, to ensure it was competitive enough to make a difference. He said this during the opening session of the 2018 PIDA Week in Victoria Falls.

"Historically African countries inherited underdeveloped infrastructure geared towards exports-imports transportation rather than focusing on transforming and improving local production capacity as well as promoting intra-Africa trade. This is why we have been able to reverse this legacy and as a continent we have crafted a new trajectory through PIDA, a turning point we should follow to ensure we transform the current state of affairs, "he said.

Mr. Matiza hailed PIDA for its efforts in Africa's infrastructure deficit. He said PIDA Week offered a valuable opportunity for policymakers, project developers, private sector, civil society, and academia to exchange views and professional solutions to the implementation of regional infrastructure projects on the continent.

"PIDA is such a vital initiative, not only to intra-African trade but perhaps more important to provide a broader platform to encourage investment," he said.

For his part, Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Agency, Mr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki said Africa needs to accelerate the development of transboundary infrastructure projects if it is to fully integrate. He said a lot of progress has been made since African leaders adopted PIDA in 2012.

"We recognize that optimal solutions for continental problems lie in regional integration. We are getting there progressively, but we need to accelerate implementation if we want regional integration. It is not a question of lack of financial resources, it is a question of lack of bankable projects and sound rules. So we need to do our homework, "said Mr. Mayaki, adding that local, national and regional governance was key to the success of Africa seeks in closing its infrastructure deficit.

Challenges

The African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr. ir. Amani Abou-Said said the current low levels of infrastructure on the continent posed one of the biggest challenges to Africa's industrialization and development agenda, which is having a negative impact on Africa's competitiveness and participation in the global markets.

According to the World Bank, the poor state of infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa in respect of its electricity, water, roads and ICT, reduced national economic growth by 40 percent.

"Meeting Africa's infrastructure needs and developing cost-effective infrastructure services requires significant investments," the Commissioner said, adding the continent to its challenges in infrastructure development into an opportunity.

The financing gap in Africa for infrastructure development is estimated at between US $ 130 -170 billion per year. 

"Despite encouraging investments on infrastructure, which averages about US $ 75 billion per year, there is a need for significant growth in infrastructure investments on the continent," Dr. Abou-Zeid added.

She added: "There are remarkable achievements within a short period of time considering the many barriers that exist within the continent. However, the scale of the challenge in infrastructure development on the continent calls for more accelerated implementation and innovative approaches to meet-up with the increasing demand for infrastructure services. "

For his part African Union's High Representative for Infrastructure Development, Mr. Raila Amollo Odinga, said Africa needs to move away from the conference and feasibility study on how to implement and implement the project.

"Transformational decisions have to be taken if we are to move ahead. Africa must deal with political bottlenecks that hamper its development or we will never compete, "said Mr. Odinga. "We must also overcome the habitual or feasibility study after feasibility study syndrome without implementing. We must change. "

Ms. Carla Montesi, European Commission's Director for Planet and Prosperity and a representative of COMESA Secretary General, Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe, also spoke in the opening session in support of Africa's desire to invest in infrastructure development that will support Africa's growth.

Ms. Montesi said the EU will continue to support Africa in its quest for integrated infrastructure that generates jobs for the youth; helps reduce poverty; and supports regional integration.

Mr. Xiao Weiming, Director-General of the Belt and Road Unit, National Development and Reform Commission, the People's Republic of China, said that his country will continue to work with African nations to help build their infrastructure capacity.

He said China will continue to improve cooperation with Africa through infrastructure development, adding PIDA was a transformative initiative that will change the face of Africa if fully implemented.

The 4th PIDA Week is being a hero under the theme; Realizing Africa 's Integration through Smart Infrastructure and Good Governance, and it' s in the past.

The event welcomes more than 400 participants from an impressive line-up or top-level government representatives, influential industry leaders, private sector, leading thinkers from international institutions, government, academia, business and finance.

It aims to provide a platform for stakeholders to engage in accelerating and synergising their efforts to accelerate projects preparation and implementation; mobilize adequate financial and technical resources for projects; increase private sector participation in PIDA implementation; and mobilize Member States to integrate the PIDA projects into their national development plans.

www.uneca.org