Let us make Africa’s Infrastructure Competitive, Zimbabwean Minister Urges Continent at PIDA Week

Let us make Africa’s Infrastructure Competitive, Zimbabwean Minister Urges Continent at PIDA Week

Africa needs to unite and work hard to reverse colonial infrastructure systems which promoted the extraction of profitable agricultural and mineral wealth for export at the expense of local communities and the continent,” Zimbabwe’s Transport and Infrastructural Development and Transport Minister, Joel Biggie Matiza said Monday.

Speaking during the opening session of the 2018 PIDA Week in Victoria Falls, Mr. Matiza said for Africa to fully develop and integrate, there was need for the continent to focus on infrastructure development, in particular transboundary projects, to ensure it was competitive enough to make a difference.

Historically African countries inherited underdeveloped infrastructure geared towards exports-imports transportation rather than focusing on transforming and improving local production capacity as well as promoting intra-Africa trade. This is reason for us to reverse this legacy and as a continent we have crafted a new trajectory through PIDA, a turning point we should follow to ensure we transform the current state of affairs,” he said.

Mr. Matiza hailed PIDA for its efforts in trying to bridge Africa’s infrastructure deficit. He said PIDA Week offered a valuable opportunity for policymakers, project developers, private sector, civil society, and academia to exchange views and proffer solutions towards the implementation of regional infrastructure projects on the continent.

“PIDA is such a vital initiative, not only to catalyse intra-African trade but perhaps more important to provide a wider platform to encourage investment” he said.

For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Agency, Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki , said Africa needs to accelerate the development of transboundary infrastructure projects if it is to fully integrate. He said a lot of progress has been made since African leaders adopted PIDA in 2012.

“We recognise that optimal solutions for continental problems lie in Regional Integration. We are getting there progressively, but we need to accelerate implementation if we want regional integration. It’s not a question of lack of financial resources, it is a question of lack of bankable projects and sound rules. So we need to do our homework,” said Dr  Mayaki, adding that local, national and regional governance was key to the success Africa seeks in closing its infrastructure deficit.

The African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid said the current low levels of infrastructure on the continent posed one of the biggest challenges to Africa’s industrialization and development agenda, which is having a negative impact on Africa’s competitiveness and participation in the global markets.

According to the World Bank, the poor state of infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa in respect of its electricity, water, roads and ICT, reduces national economic growth by 2 percent annually and reduces productivity by as much as 40 percent.

“Meeting Africa’s infrastructure needs and developing cost-effective infrastructure services requires significant investments,” the Commissioner said, adding the continent should turn its challenges in infrastructure development into an opportunity.

The financing gap in Africa for infrastructure development is estimated at between US$130 -170 billion per year.

“Despite encouraging investments on infrastructure, both at the domestic and international levels, which averages about US$75 billion per year, there is a need for significant increase in infrastructure investments on the continent,” Dr. Abou-Zeid added.

She added: “There have been remarkable achievements within a short period of time considering the many barriers that exist within the continent. However, the scale of the challenge in infrastructure development on the continent calls for more accelerated implementation and innovative approaches to meet-up with the increasing demand for infrastructure services.”

For his part African Union’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development, Honorable Raila Amollo Odinga, said Africa needs to move away from the conference and feasibility study syndrome and move to implement agreed projects if it is to successfully integrate and achieve sustainable development and change the lives of its citizens for the better.

“Transformational decisions have to be taken if we are to move ahead. Africa must deal with political bottlenecks that hamper its development or we shall never compete,” said Mr. Odinga. “We must also overcome the habitual of feasibility study after feasibility study without implementing. We must change.”

Ms. Carla Montesi, European Commission’s Director for Planet and Prosperity and a representative of COMESA Secretary General, Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe, also spoke in the opening session in support of Africa’s desire to invest in infrastructural development that will support Africa’s growth.

Ms. Montesi said the EU will continue to support Africa in its quest for an integrated infrastructure that generates jobs for the youth; helps reduce poverty; and supports regional integration.

Mr. Xiao Weiming, Director-General of the Belt and Road Unit, National Development and Reform Commission, the People’s Republic of China, said his country will continue to work with African nations to help build their infrastructure capacity.

He said China will continue to enhance cooperation with Africa through infrastructure development, adding PIDA was a transformative initiative that will change the face of Africa if fully and successfully implemented.

The 4th PIDA Week is being held under the theme; Realizing Africa’s Integration through Smart Infrastructure and Good Governance, and it intends to build on the relative achievements and the momentum created in the previous three events to continue to engage stakeholders on the effective delivery of infrastructure on the continent.

The event welcomed more than 400 participants brought together an impressive line-up of top-level government representatives, influential industry leaders, private sector, leading thinkers from international institutions, government, academia, business and finance.

It aims to provide a platform for stakeholders to engage in accelerating and synergizing their efforts to accelerate projects preparation and implementation; mobilize adequate financial and technical resources for projects; increase private sector participation in PIDA implementation; and mobilize Member States to integrate the PIDA projects into their national development plans.

Journalists Visit the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Courtesy of the AUC

Journalists Visit the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Courtesy of the AUC

The African Union Commission took journalists from across the continent on a tour of the largest hydropower project in Africa, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) today.

The GERD, which is one of the projects under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), is at an advanced stage with an installed capacity of 6,000 MW. Construction of the Dam started in April 2011 and is currently employing 12,000 jobs.

The visit to the Dam was preceded by a third media workshop held on 5 and 6 November 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to hone the skills of 24 journalists to effectively cover the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

PIDA Journalists Network visiting the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

“During the two days, the overall assessment of journalists was that all were ready and willing to give off their best in writing / reporting about PIDA Projects,” said Mr. Yagouba Traoré, Head of Information Unit in the Department of Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union Commission.

Mr. Traoré affirmed that from the questions asked, it was clear that many write about PIDA but struggled to adapt to new media, get content (data in particular) and leveraging on social media.

The workshop brought together 24 media practitioners from across Africa. The journalists were exposed to the workings of PIDA, how to analyze the impact of its work, and where to find the right data and information for news and features stories.

The low internet penetration levels were mentioned as one of the growth inhibitors as many said it is, at times, out of reach or not reliable especially while on PIDA site visits. The interest by journalists to participate in PIDA also showed that many had the quest for knowledge in personal improvement, particularly in infrastructure. This interest, honed can be a great asset for stakeholders to not only add on media exposure but also boost content for PIDA’s Virtual site (http://www.au-pida.org) which is a resource tool kit for a great international audience.

It was concluded that the PIDA Journalists’ network has the potential to be elevated to be one of Africa’s media database of professionals who can be equipped with knowledge and skills on business reporting in Africa. The interest drawn from this training is a testament that there is great potential in this with the help of PIDA stakeholders.

The event is part of the PIDA Capacity Building Project (CAP) supported by the African Development Bank and whose main objective is to strengthen the capacity of the African Union Commission, the NEPAD Agency and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) for planning, facilitation and coordination of implementation of regional infrastructure programmes and projects necessary for enhancing Africa’s physical and economic integration and socio economic development.

The Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) is an African Union Commission (AUC) initiative, in partnership with the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. There are 51 programmes and projects divided into 433 projects covering various sectors including transport, energy, information and communication technology (ICT) and trans-boundary water sectors.

Hon. Odinga appointed High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa

Hon. Odinga appointed High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa

Bridging the gap in infrastructure is vital to economic advancement and sustainable development. However, this can only be achieved through regional and continental co-operation and solution-finding, which calls for greater political will and buy-in.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, appointed Honourable Raila Odinga of Kenya as High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa on 20 October 2018. This decision is part of the African Union’s drive to expedite the integration of the continent through infrastructure, in order to promote economic growth and sustainable development. It comes against the backdrop of renewed efforts in this regard, as exemplified by the adoption, last March in Kigali, of the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and the African Passport, as well as by the launching of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), in Addis Ababa in January 2018. The Chairperson of the Commission expressed appreciation to President Uhuru Kenyatta for his support to this decision, consistent with his commitment to African integration.

As High Representative for Infrastructure, Hon. Odinga will work to support and strengthen the efforts of the Commission’s relevant Departments and those of the NEPAD Agency, within the framework of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), which was endorsed by the Assembly of the Union in January 2012. In this respect, his mandate includes mobilising further political support and development assistance from Member States and Regional Economic Communities, as well as facilitating greater ownership by all concerned stakeholders on the continent. He will also support the NEPAD Agency initiatives to encourage increased commitment from development partners.

In the discharge of his mandate, and building on the work and leadership of the PIDA Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative, the High Representative will pay particular attention to the missing links along the transnational highway corridors identified as part of the Trans-African Highways Network, with a view to facilitating their development and modernisation. He will also focus on the continental high-speed train, which is one of the flagship projects of the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063, in the context of the relevant African Union decisions. He will also interact with the current Champions of related African Union and NEPAD Agency initiatives and seek their guidance, to ensure the required synergy and coherence. The Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative was born out of a proposal by the NEPAD Agency and the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation. It was initially championed by South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma to accelerate regional infrastructure development enabled through the political championing of projects.

Dr Ibrahim Mayaki pointed out that the role of the champions is to bring visibility, unblock bottlenecks, co-ordinate resource mobilisation and ensure project implementation. It presents the opportunity for African Heads of State and Government to be actively involved in the development and implementation of projects. The projects cover four infrastructure sectors that is, transport, energy, ICT and transboundary water projects. “We warmly welcome Hon. Raila Odinga and look forward to support him in achieving sound results,” Dr Mayaki said. The official communique can be viewed at: http://www.peaceau.org/uploads/auc.com.appointment-of-high-representative-20.10.2018.pdf

The revitalisation of Africa’s railways

The revitalisation of Africa’s railways

Given the current situation of African rail networks and the desire and ambition displayed at high levels to revitalise or even develop this vital sector so that it can contribute effectively to inclusive growth and the integration of the continent, African transport Ministers have made various commitments and declarations.

The declarations include those adopted in Brazzaville in 2006; Algiers in 2008 and Malabo in 2014, through which they undertook to support and strengthen the African Railways Union to enable it to play its full role, as well as to adopt Vision 2040 for rail revitalisation in Africa, placing it at the heart of the programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

The call was made to provide Africa with a “reliable, sustainable, high-performance, environmentally friendly, affordable rail system by 2040 that can, along with other modes of transport, promote the socio-economic development of and regional integration while contributing to a better global position for the continent.

Since then, the Africa Union Commission and the NEPAD Agency have undertaken several initiatives towards achieving these commitments.
It is in this context that African Union with the Technical support of NEPAD Agency held its first meeting on the revitalisation of the continent’s railways, at African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 24 to 27 September 2018. On the agenda was the restoration of the African Union of Railways; the implementation of Vision 2040 on the revitalisation of railways in Africa; an update on the progress of the Continental High Speed Train, and; the action plan for the implementation of rail revitalisation in Africa.

Participants of the first meeting on the revitalisation of Africa’s railways in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Leader of the NEPAD delegation to Addis Ababa, Mr Louis Napo, NEPAD Agency’s Advisor on the African Integrated High-Speed Railway Network, presented the progress report on the continental High-Speed Railway Network. The next step in the continental project will entail conducting a feasibility study, for which a consultant has been selected, following the tender bidding process.

Members of the Committee examined the different aspects related to the problem of African Union of Railways and decided on a roadmap to finalise the appropriate plan for the revitalisation of the entity, which will be submitted for approval of the conference of Transport Ministers scheduled for July 2019.

The PIDA Job Creation Toolkit: #changingpeoplelives

The PIDA Job Creation Toolkit: #changingpeoplelives

The NEPAD Agency with support from the German Government through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Global Clearinghouse for Development Finance (GlobalDF) developed the PIDA Job Creation Toolkit to estimate the labour market effects of PIDA cross-border infrastructure projects. The Toolkit is a first of its kind online estimation tool that can be utilised by project owners to estimate how many direct, indirect, induced and secondary jobs can be created by infrastructure projects. The possible jobs created, can be disaggregated by project phase, project and beneficiary countries as well as economic sector of where those jobs are estimated to be realized.

In that respect, the NEPAD Agency held a training workshop in Pretoria on the 17th – 18th July 2018 to train PIDA project owners and officials from the Regional Economic Communities and the African Union Commission in applying the Toolkit for their respective projects. Mr. Symerre Grey-Johnson, Head of Regional Integration Infrastructure and Trade Programme at the NEPAD Agency, welcomed the delegates and introduced the toolkit as a powerful tool that can transform African job maximization. Users were trained how to input their project’s data to generate job estimations and analyse the Toolkit output for further use. For example: a hydropower project has the potential to create above 2 million job years in the project and project beneficiary countries over an estimated project life cycle of 50 years. Building up on that, the Toolkit also shows the economic sectors of where those estimated jobs can be created so the local labour market can be prepared to absorb those potential jobs locally. Another Toolkit function is that of scenario analysis: often times in infrastructure development, project inputs such as construction materials or the preparation of technical studies is brought in from outside of Africa. The Toolkit recognises this as investment leakage and therefore does not estimate local jobs. Rather the Toolkit shows users the number of local jobs that are lost because of for example importing steel from overseas. However, the Toolkit can create a what if scenario: what if, these inputs such as construction materials/technical studies etc. were locally sourced instead of imported? Eventually, the user can see an As If versus a What If scenario that contrasts the number of local jobs potentially being lost for not buying locally sourced project inputs e.g. steel. Additionally, the Toolkit provides action areas of how local jobs can be maximized during the different project phases.

Overall the workshop was big success leaving participants to go back home with a tool that benefits them in terms project management and marketing as well as policy planning. Participants stated to use the Toolkit in future socio-economic analysis and promoting their projects to Ministers and management officials. At the training closing remarks, participants started to tweet: #PIDA Job Creation Toolkit: changing people lives or #NEPAD Agency prepares game changing Job Creation Toolkit. Moving forward, the PIDA Job Creation Toolkit will incorporate the feedback provided by the participants to optimize its service before going online.