Regional infrastructure projects with continental impact can drive African trade, growth and development

14 November 2018

The latest annual report from the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) highlights the importance of regional infrastructure projects in helping to drive continent-wide trade and equitable, sustainable growth.

While the initiative to develop the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has the potential to transform the continent, its success is largely dependent on Africa’s ability to create and sustain the infrastructure needed at a regional level, to broaden and deepen integration and catalyse growth in intra-African trade.  

Bringing African countries together to fully leverage and add value to Africa’s resources and capabilities is critical for sustainable growth across the continent.  This is particularly important if Africa is to realise its potential in sectors where growth prospects are brightest, such as agriculture and food, industry, and services.  

Further, if the AfCFTA is to be successful, it is important that infrastructure development is spread evenly across the continent. The ICA’s Infrastructure Financing Trends in Africa  report highlights some notable achievements in Africa’s infrastructure development and shows how regional infrastructure projects can have the continental impact needed for a fully functioning free trade area.

The ICA’s report, which was published during the Africa Investment Forum, demonstrates how Africa’s Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Power Pools (RPPs) can play vital roles not only in the development of regional infrastructure projects but also in connecting Africa’s regions with each other.

An example of where the RECs and RPPs are already playing key roles is the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya (ZTK) Interconnector project, which is one of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Priority Action Plan projects and programmes. To be successful – and have continental impact – the project must be executed by several domestic and regional actors working cooperatively.  ZTK is also supported by a number of development finance institutions, including AfDB, EIB, JICA and the World Bank.

Beyond regional benefits, the ZTK Interconnector project will connect the southern and eastern African power pools and enhance inter-regional electricity trading by interconnecting the two pools’ grids. The project is expected to create the largest power pool on the continent and will be an essential component of the North-South (Cape to Cairo) power transmission corridor.


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