Stakeholders advocate trans-continental highways to deepen regional trade
To deepen intra-African trade, there is a need for governments in the continent to improve trans-continental highways in terms of road and rail networks.
This was the view of stakeholders at the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week 2018, which opened in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
According to them the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), could not be over-stated and necessitates an integrated approach to infrastructure development on the continent.
To date, 49-member states have signed the AfCFTA since it was unveiled at an African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, in March.
Twelve have now ratified the agreement, which needs 22 ratifications by March next year to go into force.
“These countries together could create a huge market with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than US $3.4 trillion and the role of PIDA in contributing to the success of the AfCTA cannot be over-stated,” said Nepad Chief Executive Officer, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki.
“As regional integration arrangements deepen and intra-African trade increases, we need to focus on improved trans-continental highways in terms of road and rail networks. And deepening of financial markets and increased cross-border financial flows, including money transfers, will require us to make additional investments in ICT and digitalisation while growing industrialization and agro-industries will require more reliable and affordable power supply across the energy mix.”
The African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism, Ms. Amani Abou-Zeid, said Africa was making a lot of progress in terms of infrastructure development.
“African leaders are fully committed to the development of transboundary infrastructure projects on the continent which will make
a huge difference in terms of regional integration and job creation so let us talk about the positive things that are happening on our continent so we can continue to build on that as we push for inclusive growth,” Ms. Abou-Zeid said.
GIZ African Union Office Director, Ms. Inge Baumgarten, said Africa has so much untapped potential that can be harnessed through massive infrastructure development.
“If the Asian tigers could make it then the African Lions can also take a giant leap forward and do it as well. It is not impossible,” said Ms. Baumgarten, adding much has been achieved in infrastructure development through GIZ partnership with the African Union and its partners on the continent.
Hubert Danso, the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Africa Investor (Ai), said Africa is leading the way in terms of mobilizing financing, including from pension funds, to be able to invest in infrastructure development on the continent.