Africa on the right track with infrastructure development

JANUARY 30, 2015

President Jacob Zuma says infrastructure is the way to go towards sustainable development and Africa is on the right track. He was addressing the 32nd Summit of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) Heads of State Governments and Orientation Committee as the chairperson of the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative (PICI).

The event was held on Thursday on the sidelines of the 24th African Union Summit in Ethiopia.

“With solid and efficient infrastructure, we can without doubt reach the much sought after and almost magical 7% growth rate per annum - a good starting point for Africa,” said President Zuma.

He said infrastructure investment spending has quadrupled, exports have increased and Africa is receiving a growing share of foreign direct investment.

“These positive trends come on the back of improving governance and a much sounder approach to macroeconomic management.

“We need to sustain these trends and deepen them. We are still left with extreme economic inequality, which appears [to be] out of control and getting worse.”

He said the impact of climate change also hits where it hurts, despite relative stability and the developmental strides made over the last few decades. The President said this showed a need to work harder to boost economic development on the continent, taking advantage of the positive climate.

“Regional integration is the key and infrastructure development is a catalyst for economic development in the continent. Many of our Regional Economic Communities (RECs) have developed regional infrastructure plans to facilitate regional trade and investments.”

While it is important to invest in regional infrastructure, governments should not lose sight of ploughing into national infrastructure, as this facilitates industrial production and national trade.

He said to close the infrastructure gap, the PICI aims to facilitate continuous dialogue and work to boost infrastructure development.

“The initiative has served to link political Heads of State to specific infrastructure corridors to ensure strategic political leadership in the championing of cross-border infrastructure projects.

“These are projects that should ultimately unlock the economic potential of the continent and provide development opportunities for communities, cities and regions,” said President Zuma.

The PICI is tasked with making infrastructure projects work, unblocking bottlenecks and any political impasse, providing leadership in resource mobilisation and subsequently ensuring speedy implementation of projects.

Development of North-South Corridor

South Africa is involved in the North-South Corridor -- a multi-modal and multi-dimensional infrastructure corridor that includes road, rail, border posts, bridges, ports, energy and other related infrastructure -- which passes through 12 countries.

The 12 countries include Tanzania, Congo, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.

“Through this initiative, we are leading the charge in infrastructure development across the continent, and these projects form the nucleus of the implementation of the broader Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA),” said President Zuma.

He said a number of hard and soft infrastructure issues and projects are in progress and are being addressed. To date, there are various projects in various stages of the project life cycle, including road, rail, bridge, border posts and energy projects.

The PICI Ministerial Working Group held a meeting on 16 January 2015, in which they recommended the inclusion of energy projects such as the Strategic North-South Transmission Line, the Sahel Desert Tech Solar Project, the Central Power Transmission Line and the identification of champions for these projects.

President Zuma said the ministerial committee also recommended that South Africa champion the manufacturing and production of locomotives and wagons as part of a deepened industrialisation drive.

“We also call for better coordination and harmonisation with the Regional Economic Communities and our critical pan-African partners and stakeholders, and between the PICI and PIDA structures,” he said.

He proposed that the summit should include new political champions under the PICI as requested previously by Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and Namibia.

“We also propose the establishment of an ad-hoc committee of the PICI Ministerial Working Group to assist in the progression of projects where required,” he said. - SAnews.gov.za