The 2017 PIDA Week ended in Swakopmund, Namibia, Wednesday with delegates calling on Member States to commit themselves to the development of Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) projects on the ground and to renew their focus to infrastructure development in rural and remote areas, among other things.
The delegates agreed Africa should up its game in mobilizing domestic resources to fund the complete implementation of the five selected projects and promote the maximal use of local content within the beneficiary countries and regions.
The five projects are the Central Corridor (Dar es Salaam to Chalinze Toll Road), Kinshasa-Brazzaville Road and Railway Bridge, Ethiopia-Sudan Power Interconnector, Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Power Connection and the Batoka Hydropower Plant.
In their final communique, delegates called upon Member States and members of the Continental Business Network (CBN) to provide adequate resources for PIDA project preparation facilities; engage partner organisations, as well as bilateral development partners to provide the necessary technical and financial support for the implementation of PIDA Priority Action Plan projects by 2020; and to continue consultations with the African Union Commission to mobilise domestic resources for the preparation of PIDA projects.
Delegates recommended that Africa builds on progress made through the implementation of PIDA PAP as there was need for some strategic focus on a number of things.
This includes fast tracking the assessment of the PIDA mid-term review and engaging the preparation of the PIDA PAP 2 (2020-2030) with an updated list of the priority projects; promote integrated corridor development using data-driven decision-making models to prioritise projects for commercial viability and promote the setting up of legal frameworks and instruments for corridor management.
Also crucial, the delegates recommended, the need for the continent to support the PIDA Model Law and expand it to address issues such as skills transfer, job creation and training. The model law seeks to harmonize cross-border rules, regulations, laws and policies governing transboundary infrastructure projects in Africa and unlock investment opportunities for the continent.
The communique emphasizes the use of cross-sectoral approaches, including the water-food-energy nexus approach, to promote and demonstrate the economic viability of water projects on the continent; and the need to ensure ICT is fully integrated in PIDA projects so broadband is available, affordable and that there is sufficient bandwidth for new services such as Data centers to support and promote online start-ups.
NEPAD’s Symerre Grey-Johnson, who read the communique for delegates, said there’s also need to raise awareness on the importance of the digital economy as an integral part of PIDA and Africa’s development and promote the online domain name industry and raise public awareness on DoTAfrica (.Africa) as a continental identity for African companies and citizens online.
“There’s need to operationalize the 5% Agenda by encouraging African sovereign wealth funds and pension funds to invest a greater part of their assets in Africa’s development including the implement of PIDA projects,” read the communique.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Cheikh Bedda, African Union Commission’s Infrastructure and Energy Director, said the AUC will continue to work with Member States and its partners on the continent to mobilise domestic resources for the preparation of PIDA projects.
“We want to reach a point where our discussions are no longer focused on our shortage of funds, but rather on our collaboration and concrete accomplishments to leverage PIDA projects for economic transformation of Africans, especially the youth,” Mr. Bedda said.
“I call upon all Member States to commit themselves to the development of PIDA projects on the ground and to renew their focus to infrastructure development in rural and remote areas.”
He saluted delegates for “fruitful discussions around PIDA, particularly on how to fast-track the implementation of its Priority Action Plan”.
“You gave us advice, counsel and recommendations during the different PIDA Parallel and Plenary sessions. I can ensure you that PIDA stakeholders will make good use of these recommendations as part of the implementation of the PIDA PAP and beyond,” said Mr. Bedda.
Mr. Grey-Johnson, speaking on behalf of the NEPAD CEO, called on Member States to re-commit themselves to PIDA, adding deliberations going forward should not be about shortage of funds but more about collaboration to ensure the delivery of regional infrastructure that will change the lives of the ordinary people.
He said the Third PIDA Week had been a huge success with delegates re-affirming the crucial role of the PIDA sectors of transport, energy, ICT and water in the achievement of the main goals of Africa’s Agenda 2063 for continental integration, prosperity and peace and their commitment to develop integrated, among others.
“We are leaving Swakopmund with high hopes that we can replicate this somewhere in COMESA,” said Mr. Grey-Johnson.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) Deputy Executive Secretary, Emilie Ayaza Mushobekwa, praised the high quality of thematic sessions, adding delegates had eloquently defined and identified threats to Africa’s desire to improve its infrastructure; reiterate their vision, refocus and refine their strategies to ensure they deliver on their objectives.
“The theme of the week ensures that we look at infrastructural development and investment, industrialisation and all as we seek to build our regional infrastructure for job creation and economic transformation,” she said.
For his part, Democratic Republic of Congo Minister, Honourable Bruno Kapandji Kalala, who’s responsible for the Inga project, said what is now needed following the successful PIDA Week was for Africa to “implement everything which has been agreed on with a clear vision and strategy” to ensure the PIDA facilitates economic and social integration on the continent through creation of continental and regional markets, among other things.
Governor of Erongo Region in Namibia, Honourable Cleophas Mujavikua, said poverty reduction and economic growth cannot be sustained in Africa in the absence of a productivity mind-shift. He hailed PIDA Week for bringing key stakeholders together to discuss Africa’s infrastructure issues.
“We should continue to engage stakeholders on delivery of infrastructure projects on that continent. We must do it with vigor and determination. It must be our wish to see a different Africa in our lifetime. We must make Africa a better place for all of us,” he said, adding time frames for delivery were also crucial.
The third PIDA Week was held under the theme ‘Regional Infrastructure Development for Job Creation and Economic Transformation’ and ends Thursday with the tour of Namibia’s Walvis Bay Corridor.