The PICI was born out of a proposal by South African President, Jacob Zuma, to accelerate regional infrastructure development through political championing of projects. This proposal was made during the 23rd HSGOC meeting in Kampala, Uganda, in July 2010. The champions bring visibility, unblock bottlenecks, co-ordinate resource mobilisation, provide leadership and ensure rapid project implementation within a specified threshold period. This is an opportu- nity for African heads of state and governments to become actively involved in the development and implementation of regional and continental infrastructure projects.
Initially, eight projects were identified to be championed by the seven selected heads of state and government from the NEPAD HSGOC AD-Hoc Committee on Infrastructure, the outcome of the proposal. All the projects and champions were endorsed by the 16th AU Assembly in January 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, while others, such as the LAPSSET Corridor project. The nine projects are champi- oned by eight heads of state and Government, and Namibia will also be joining the PICI family with a visionary logis- tics and infrastructure programme. South Africa was selected as the chair of the PICI under the leadership of President Zuma. The projects cover transport, energy, ICT, and trans-boundary water. The proposal was jointly developed by the agency and the DIRCO into a technical concept paper and, ultimately, the PICI.
The PICI ensures that the projects are implemented within five years between 2010 and 2015. In this context, implementation refers to the progression of the project from pre-feasibility to feasibility phase, or from feasibility to construction, or that demonstrable evidence of pro- gress is available. The PICI model includes an effective reporting sys- tem, where progress of the individual projects is reported on every six months during the bi-annual HSGOC meetings by the respective cham- pions. A comprehensive project status report is also presented by the chair during the AU Assembly, while President Zuma, regularly hosts a Presidential Breakfast before each HSGOC meeting. The breakfasts provide a platform where the respective PICI champions report on the progress of their projects.
In 2016, PICI projects made significant progress, in terms of imple- mentation. This progress demonstrates that, with political commit- ment and dedication, key infrastructure projects with developmental impacts can effectively progress. This model can also be adopted by the broader PIDA projects to promote sustained momentum in their implementation.