AU, UN Commission seek accelerated funding for cross-border infrastructure projects

2 December 2019

Source: The Nation

Bola Olajuwon, Assistant Editor, Cairo

Nigeria and other African countries have been urged by the continental body, African Union (AU) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to boost investments in cross-border infrastructure projects to drive continental integration and growth.

This was the kernel of discussions at the Continental Business Network (CBN) meeting organised on the fringe of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA-2019) held in Cairo, Egypt.

The event, which ended on Saturday, was organised by the African Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of the AU Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, financing of cross-border infrastructure projects “is a key driver for progress and acceleration of Africa’s regional integration.”

The AUDA-NEPAD chief also emphasised that a stronger public-private partnership could hasten the investment in these regional projects.

Mayaki argued that the significance of cross-border infrastructure projects was to spur regional integration in Africa

He listed some of the achievements of some African countries in areas of undertaking such projects.

Some of such infrastructure projects , according to him, are Abidjan – Grand Bassam Missing Road Links Upgrade  Road Côte d’Ivoire (30%); Abidjan – Lagos Corridor Highway – Upgrade Road between Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo (65%) ; Agona Junction – Alubo Road (17%); Elubo/ Noe One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) (30%); Godomey – Pahou Road (22%); and Hillacondji-Sanveekondji OSBP -Upgrade  Border Post between Benin and Togo (57%).

Among the projects are Kraké/ Sémé Badagry – upgraded border post between Benin and Nigeria; Noépé OSBP Upgrade Border Post between Ghana and Togo (43%); Ouidah/Hillacondji/Sanveekondji in Togo (43%) and Abidjan – Ouagadougou Narrow Gauge Railway (Burkina Fasso section); the Ruzizi III Hydropower Dam on the Ruzizi River along the borders of Democratic Republic of Congo (the DRC), Burundi and Rwanda, and the Nigeria-Algeria Gas Pipeline Project (Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline).

The AUDA-NEPAD chief said more than 60 percent of infrastructure projects in Africa are funded publicly, stressing that the know-how that was built-in financing national projects could be leveraged in financing regional projects.

Also, data from the UNECA also show that “infrastructure development in Africa can potentially raise GDP by two percent and develop the backbone for rapid industrialisation, boosting the capacity to generate more domestic resources.”

The continent was also urged to augment the investments in infrastructure development in Africa to achieve major continental development aspirations.

However, PIDA is aimed deepening continental cooperation and integration through public, private and regional funding for infrastructural development.

In PAP1 of the continental agenda, the AU body is focusing on over 400 projects, including 54 energy projects (hydropower plants and interconnectors), 236 transport projects, 114 for ICT sector and nine transboundary water projects.

The energy projects include 10 hydropower plants of over 22 gigawatts capacity, notably the Inga-3, which is under negotiation for financing  and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is under construction.

The infrastructure projects identified in PIDA require investments of $360 billion by 2040.

Of the $81.6 billion invested, 42.1 percent came from national governments, 23.8 percent came from China, and 24.1 percent came from bilateral donors, multilateral agencies and African institutions. The private sector accounted for just 2.8 percent.

However, Robert Lisinge, Chief of Energy, Infrastructure and Services Section at the ECA, emphasised the importance of harmonising policies, laws and regulations relating to infrastructure investment.

A representative of the African Import Export Bank noted that the bank has been working on capacity building, and de-risking mechanism, which are key to unlocking capital. The bank is working with 51 out of the 54 member states to enhance funding for infrastructure projects.

Representative of the European Union (EU) Mrs. Carla Montesi reaffirmed the commitment of the EU in supporting Africa’s regional economic integration and infrastructure growth.

Motensi said the EU has provided one billion euro for energy, transport and ICT development projects per year in the past last seven years.  The need to bridge the financing gap is still present.

Last week, the EU pledged to extend 1.6 billion euro grant at the African Investment Forum.

Also, Ambassador Khaled Emara, Assistant Foreign Minister for African Organizations and Communities and Personal representative of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to AUDA-NEPAD stated that weak infrastructure in Africa is obstructing economic growth.

He stressed the need to expedite infrastructure development projects to achieve the 2063 development agenda.

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