The African Union Commission is organizing a series of regional workshops in the continent to prepare and deliver the next phase of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Priority Action Plan (PAP) for 2020-2030.

The Arab and the Maghreb Union (AMU/UMA) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) were the first of the eight Regional Economic Communities to kick-start a continental consultative process from 8 to 10 May in Tunis, Tunisia to work together on a 60-question face-to-face consultation in a bid to assess the progress achieved so far in PIDA and highlight the strengths and success stories as well as the weaknesses of the processes and instruments put in place for achieving the 2020 targets set in the PIDA-PAP.

Delivering his opening remarks, the Secretary-General of the Arab Maghreb Union, Dr. Taieb Baccouche referred to the fundamental role of Regional Economic Organizations in the continent to ensure the success of economic integration, infrastructure development and coordination of development policies and programmes, namely PIDA.

“At the Maghreb level,” the Secretary-General stated, “member States of the Arab Maghreb Union had made enormous investments in infrastructure over the past few years.”

The Secretary-General concluded by urging all stakeholders to contribute effectively to this consultative process to play key roles and provide inputs towards the development of the second phase PIDA-PAP in order to ensure a common framework for the region to build the infrastructure necessary to create new jobs, increase intra-African trade and thus boost socio-economic development on the continent.

On his part, the Director for Economic Cooperation at the IGAD, Mr. Elsadig Abdalla stated the IGAD member states have invested heavily, estimated at US$ 7 billion, in infrastructure linking the capitals of the region, including railway lines, power lines and roads. He confirmed IGAD’s support and full involvement in the formulation of the next phase of PIDA.

Speaking on behalf of the African Union Commission, Mr. Yagouba Traoré, PIDA Data Analyst, explained that AU member States have been concentrating on ensuring the delivery of the short-term priorities and objectives of PIDA referred to as the PIDA Priority Action Plans (PIDA PAP), which comprises 51 programmes and projects.

“Due to strong political advocacy and sensitization work of the AUC and NEPAD, 34 programmes are now included in national development plans of 42 AU Member States,” Mr. Traoré noted. He explained that this reinforced political commitment is a key reason for the improvement in implementation of the first phase of PIDA-PAP. Mr. Traoré made reference to the key deliverables that include the PIDA Mid-Term Review and the development of the second Phase of the PIDA Priority Action Plan, which is imminent.

He went on to say that one crucial lesson learnt for the development process of the next phase of PIDA-PAP is to closely engage not only with the RECs, but also with AU Member States in order to ensure ownership of the strategic framework and the selected priority projects.

Mr. Traoré explained that, as the first in a series of consultations, the Tunis meeting was to “set the tone and pace”. “We look forward to the fruitful discussions with such a diverse list of participants, both in terms of geography and areas of expertise,” Mr. Traoré concluded.

Also speaking during the opening session on behalf of the NEPAD Agency, Mr. George Murumba, Monitoring and Evaluation Expert, stated that the meeting will yield project data that will update where the UMA and IGAD regions are with regards to PIDA, and lay the ground for the PIDA Mid-Term Review.

“But most importantly,” Mr. Murumba uttered, “the meeting will make necessary formative thoughts and recommendations on the process and selection criteria that will be integrated in the development of the next phase of the PIDA PAP 2020 and beyond on how to select national and regional priority projects that are aligned and can be sustained.”

He concluded by stating that this meeting marks the early steps of the process of developing the next phase of the PIDA PAP strategic framework. “Through the usual joint stewardship, we hope that we can use what we have learned to get the PIDA programme to be a success,” Mr. Murumba opined.

The overall objective of the workshop was to continue to engage the Regional Economic Communities in PIDA, to exchange national experiences at the regional level, and input was sought from workshop participants in a form of a questionnaire on the next phase of PIDA.

The Consultation is a three-day meeting full of reports, presentations, discussions on a questionnaire that brought together more than 30 representatives of the Arab and the Maghreb Union (AMU/UMA) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), national stakeholders from Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, South Sudan, Uganda and Libya and experts from the African Union Commission and the NEPAD Agency.

The consultation in Tunis is expected to be followed by consultations in Nairobi, South Africa, Tanzania and Ghana ahead of a continental presentation on the results in October 2018.

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