Group calls for AfCFTA forum on railway
A rail advocacy group, African Railway Roundtable, has called on the African Union Development Agency – New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) and the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) to urgently convey an AfCFTA Railway Forum.
Director of the group, Olawale Rasheed, said that the forum was imperative to address the problem of connectivity, adding that the ease of movement of goods and services is at the heart of common economic union and prosperity envisaged under AfCFTA.
Media Officer, Dele Abdulahi, said it is curious that several discussions on AfCFTA excluded the significance of railway as a critical success factor, in continental coordination and interoperability. Here, it is not just about technical uniformity and alignment but also the standardisation of economic and operational rules and templates among member states.
Rasheed, who doubles as Managing Director, African Railway Consulting Limited, said while it was a thing of joy that several African nations and economic blocs were actively reviving and expanding their railway networks, continental coordination and standardisation is a matter that should interest critical continental agencies like AUDA-NEPAD and AfCFTA secretariat. A railway Forum to address key issues affecting a common railway policy and harmonisation agenda is necessary.
“AUDA-NEPAD can launch the process in partnership with the AfCFTA secretariat. NEPAD under the current leadership has laid solid foundation for continental railway projects, identifying African wide railway transportation as key to deepening inter and intra-African trade. The African Continental High Speed Rail project was conceived and approved by African Heads of State in pursuance of this major goal,” he said.
According to him, working the talk is paramount, especially with the advent of AfCFTA. Several protocols are being negotiated. It is time to start trans- boundary and trans-national railway protocol. Creating a common African Railway Policy will also speed up resolution of challenges of standardisation across technical, economic and legal boundaries.
“I call on the CEO, AUDA-NEPAD, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki and the AfCFTA leadership to act urgently to host an AfCFTA railway Forum. Railway stakeholders across Africa will Join the duo and their respective organisations to make the exercise a worthwhile one”, Rasheed said.