As one of the instruments for PIDA implementation, PLR addresses “soft issues” that have an impact on infrastructure development. In 2016, PLR support focused on collaboration with the UNECA on the harmonisation of policies, laws and regulations to enhance private sector investment in African infrastructure. It also cooperated with the AFUR to expand the scope of its work to cover all PIDA sectors and the establishment of an ACEIR.
The harmonisation of policies, laws and regu- lations follows the findings of the DFS in 2014, which emphasised the need for a common framework to enhance private-sector financing of trans-boundary infrastructure projects. At the
24th Ordinary Summit in January 2015, heads of state of the AU called on the UNECA, NEPAD Agency, RECs and other relevant stakeholders to propose a regional framework to harmonise policies, laws and regulations pertaining to private-sector investment in trans-boundary infrastructure projects. A study was then com- missioned by the UNECA with the following objectives:
- to enhance the capacity of member states to accelerate the implementation of the Dakar Agenda for Action by agreeing on a common operational framework for private-sector investment in trans-boundary infrastructure;
- to garner comprehensive data on the available policies, laws and regulations relating to private-sector financing of trans-boundary infrastructure;
- to increase understanding on the degree of disharmony of the available policies, laws and regulations on infrastructure financing; and
- to accelerate the implementation of the Dakar Agenda for
Action and, in particular, private-sector investment in the 16 DFS projects.
This will lead to the development of a common regional framework for policies, laws and regulations on private-sector investment in trans-boundary infrastructure projects.
During 2015 and 2016, the UNECA and the NEPAD Agency undertook joint fact-finding and data-collection missions to countries in the SADC, ECOWAS, COMESA and the AMU to find key elements that will be need for such a framework. The draft framework was validated in mid-No- vember 2016 and will be presented to the AU Assembly this year.
The African Centre of Excellence for Infrastructure Regulation in Africa
The ACEIR was conceptualised as an inter-disciplinary regional infra- structure development and management-focused “centre of excel- lence”. It comprises regulatory practitioners, professors and research- ers from global universities and research institutes. Some internal staff members drive and co-ordinate the institution’s work programmes.
Engineering, economics, political science, public administration and law will be incorporated into the centre’s research, publishing and capacity-development initiatives. ACEIR will undertake its work pre- dominantly within:
- energy, comprising electricity, gas and oil;
- communications, comprising telecommunication, post and Media;
- transport, comprising air, rail, road and maritime), and
- water: drinking and wastewater.
ACEIR wants to develop African models of regulation in these indus- tries. In addition, it will conduct cross-sectorial research and design and implement capacity-building programmes for regulators, government ministry officials and operators. It will also organise high-level policy dialogues between governments, regulators and operators.
ACEIR will be established as a network of institutions, throughout the five AU-recognised regions in Africa. Their work will be co-ordinated from a main hub secretariat, using a hub-and-spoke model. NEPAD and AFUR will act as the secretariat and selected AFUR members and aca- demic institutions the spokes, providing applied learning input; regional, including central, east, north, southern and west-Africa insight; and sec- tor-wide coverage.
It is projected that ACEIR will be financed by AFUR members from donations from regulat- ed African firms and operators, partner institu- tions and international development partners.
A soft launch of ACEIR, under the theme Introducing ACEIR: A Catalyst to Help “Light Up and Power Africa” and Promote Investment in the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), was held alongside the AfDB an- nual meetings in May 2016 in Lusaka, Zambia. This was followed by a stakeholder consulta- tion in September 2016 that further unpacked the value proposition of ACEIR to different stakeholder constituencies and identified prior- ity areas for ACEIR.
During PIDA Week 2016, a session was on infrastructure regulation was hosted to raise awareness of ACEIR and its links to PIDA, and to mobilise and engage partners to support the initiative.