In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a recommitment to develop Africa’s infrastructure was made by Heads of State at a side-event for the initiative on championing infrastructure during the African Union Summit. It was attended by the the President of Rwanda H.E Paul Kagame and the President of South Africa, H.E Cyril Ramaphosa and Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat among other delegates.

The initiative, called ‘The Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative (PICI)’ which was born out of a proposal by South Africa to accelerate regional infrastructure development enabled through the political championing of projects. It is coordinated by the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD).

“Africa is back on track to return to a surge in economic growth, recorded in the earlier part of the millennium, as the continent moves with a renewed sense of urgency, speed and commitment to ensure inclusive growth,” was the sentiment expressed by the President of South Africa, H.E Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Ramaphosa went on to state that the risk in investing in Africa’s infrastructure is mostly overexaggerated, “Our continent is on the rise!” the President said.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat emphasised that infrastructure projects on the continent need to concretely deliver on improving livelihoods, especially in creating jobs for unemployed youth.

The role of the champions at Head of State level is to bring visibility, unblock bottlenecks, mobilise resources and ensure project implementation. The PICI presents an opportunity for African Heads of State and Government to be actively involved in the development and implementation of projects.

“I would like to commend the completion of the ICT Broadband and Optic Fibre Project for all the EAC countries, championed by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; The finalisation of the VICMED Feasibility Study – Phase 1, Championed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt; The construction of first berth of Lamu Port and Isiolo – Moyale (505Km), championed by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya; the great progress made on the North-South Corridor championed by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa; the Kinshasa-Brazzaville Bridge Road/Rail Project championed by President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo; and the International Logistics Hub championed by President Hage Geingob of Namibia,” Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of AUDA-NEPAD stated in his opening remarks.

The high-level representation and commitment as reflected in the examples cited above demonstrates the ability of the PICI champions to bring visibility and unblock the pathway to accelerate the implementation of these important projects. They also show that the initiative puts Africa on the right track towards unlocking its potential.

Over the period from 2011 to 2019, the membership of the PICI increased by 50% from 8 to 12 members, reflecting the unequivocal commitment of political leaders to upscale infrastructure across the African continent. Along with South Africa as chair, the PICI comprises Algeria, Benin, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Namibia, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal. Furthermore, in 2019, the PICI members accepted and endorsed the membership of Sudan.

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