The Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week 2018 opened in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe on Monday with a united call from panelists for the media to project Africa’s image positively during a media breakfast that brought together PIDA network of journalists, local and global media fraternity, infrastructure policymakers, development partners and private sector to discuss among other issues,  Africa’s infrastructure deficit and how that can be reduced to ensure inclusive development on the continent.

The African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, said that Africa is making a lot of progress in terms of infrastructure development. She implored the media to highlight the continent’s success stories in that regards.

“African leaders are fully committed to the development of transboundary infrastructure projects on the continent which will make a huge difference in terms of regional integration, job creation and related issues so let us talk about the positive things that are happening on our continent so we can continue to build on that as we push for inclusive growth in Africa,” Dr. Abou-Zeid said.

Echoing the same sentiments on the role of the media in advocating PIDA success stories, the NEPAD Agency CEO, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki urged the media to advocate on transboundary infrastructure projects such as Kazungula Bridge on the border of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana, to remind Africa and the world that Africa is indeed rising.

He indicated that the role of PIDA in contributing to the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) cannot be over-stated and necessitates an integrated approach to infrastructure development on the continent.

To date, 49 member States have signed the AfCFTA since it was unveiled at an African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, in March. Twelve have now ratified the agreement, which needs 22 ratifications by March next year to go into force.

“These countries together could create a huge market with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than US $3.4 trillion and the role of PIDA in contributing to the success of the AfCTA cannot be over-stated,” said Dr Mayaki.

“As regional integration arrangements deepen and intra-African trade increases, we need to focus on improved trans-continental highways in terms of road and rail networks. Deepening of financial markets and increased cross-border financial flows, including money transfer will require us to make additional investments in ICT and digitalisation while growing industrialization and agro-industries will require more reliable and affordable power supply across the energy mix.” he said.

The Media Breakfast session also brought together other key PIDA stakeholders, namely the African Development Bank (AfDB), GiZ and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).

GIZ African Union Office Director, Ms. Inge Baumgarten said Africa has so much untapped potential that can be harnessed through massive infrastructure development.

“If the Asian tigers could make it then the African Lions can also take a giant leap forward and do it as well. It is not impossible,” said Ms. Baumgarten, adding much has been achieved in infrastructure development through GIZ partnership with the African Union and its partners on the continent.

Development Bank of Southern African (DBSA) Group Executive, Mohan Vivekanandan said “as a development finance institution (DFI) the DBSA works closely with other DFIs across the continent to achieve national and regional infrastructure priorities in Africa. The DBSA is currently preparing a number of PIDA linked projects in both the energy and transport sectors.” in line with this year’s theme Realising Africa’s integration through Smart Infrastructure and Good Governance.

Mr. Hubert Danso, the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Africa Investor (Ai), said Africa is leading the way in terms of mobilizing financing, including from pension funds, to be able to invest in infrastructure development on the continent.

He praised the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) for the work is doing under PIDA as a partner to the African Union Commission, Nepad and the African Development Bank in pushing the continent to close the infrastructure gap in Africa.

“The ECA has very specific and specialized expertise and is helping a lot in underpinning the institutional framework of all this. We are the mobilizers of the capital while the African Union provides the political capital that’s essential to be able to give the comfort that the policies and the frameworks will be adhered to during the life style of the projects,” said Mr. Danso.

Ms. Moono Mupotola, the Infrastructure Director at the African Development Bank said the bank will continue to support transboundary infrastructure development on the continent.

The Media Breakfast is a platform that seeks to raise the profile of infrastructure development in the African media landscape, increase the volume and quality of positive news on the role and impact of PIDA in infrastructure development on the continent.

The 2018 PIDA Week is being held under the theme; PIDA Implementation through Good Governance – Realizing Smart Infrastructure for Africa’s Integration.

The Media Breakfast, which gathered more than 100 targeted participants, was co-organized by the African Union Commission (AUC), NEPAD Agency, AfDB and the ECA.

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