The 6th PIDA Week scheduled for 18-21 January 2021, ended today on a high note with the various infrastructure stakeholders re-affirming the crucial role of PIDA in the achievement of the main goals of the AU Agenda 2063 for continental integration, prosperity and peace. They further reiterated their commitment to regional integration and the development of integrated and efficient infrastructure.
The closing of the week-long virtual event began with messages of condolence from AUDA-NEPAD Agency CEO, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, Ambassador Ghulam Hussein Asmal from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa and Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, on the passing of Minister Jackson Mthembu, Minister in the South African Presidency. They all spoke of his high level of motivation, humility, and dedication to pan-Africanism.
PIDA Week this year saw deliberations ranging from the Continental Business Network session which focused on the accelerated involvement of the private sector in infrastructure projects, to sessions on resource mobilization, to the Africa Single Electricity Market, Cyber Security, African High Speed Rail, the AfCFTA, PIDA Priority Action Plan, Gender Responsive financing in infrastructure and a session on the PIDA Jobs Outlook.
Speaking during the opening session of the event, the CEO of the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki indicated that while the AfCFTA has become a reality, developing robust infrastructure is crucial to its operationalisation and success. He said that Member States must be connected physically and digitally through hard infrastructure and connected in the harmonisation and coordination of processes through soft infrastructure.
Echoing his sentiments at opening session was the Minister of International Relations, South Africa, Dr Naledi Pandor who spoke on the need for a unified approach to infrastructure development through regional integration and cooperation.
It is worthy to note that majority of the speakers during this PIDA Week spoke at length about the AfCFTA which in their perspective, would foster economic transformation in the continent. They however warned that without the necessary infrastructure being put into place, the goals of AfCFTA might not be realized.
“Infrastructure and industrialistion are the main pillars in the success of the AfCFTA” said Prudence Sebahizi during the AfCFTA, Infrastructure and Economic Transformation in Africa session.
PIDA Week was inaugurated in 2015 as a forum to bring together key stakeholders in the implementation of the PIDA programme. The event has since progressed into a critical forum for accelerating infrastructure implementation in Africa, but also to link infrastructure to the key themes of development of regional integration, transformative economic growth, and job creation. The format of the event provides an opportunity to engage and exchange information on PIDA and infrastructure development in general. This year’s event was held under the theme. New decade, new realities, new priorities – positioning PIDA and infrastructure development in Africa’s continued growth and economic recovery.
On the last day of this year’s PIDA Week, recommendations made by different stakeholders were read out in the form of a communique. The communique encapsulates key recommendations from the different sessions, and it outlines the commitments of the various stakeholders to advancing PIDA implementation. .
Reading from the Communique Ambassador Ghulam Hussein Asmal, (extracted from the communique), said: “We, Ministers and delegates to the Sixth PIDA Week … encourage PIDA stakeholders to adopt the principles espoused in the PIDA partnership strategy that will ensure a common African approach to infrastructure development partnerships; and urge AUC/AUDA-NEPAD to set mechanisms to assess the performance of Africa’s infrastructure partnerships using the accountability framework presented in the partnership strategy…”
In his remarks, Dr, Mayaki reminded participants of the need for adequate funding for project preparation, saying “The aspect of sustainable financing of early-stage project preparation cannot be over-emphasised. Without well-prepared projects, we will be shooting in the dark and unable to move projects to bankability and hence full implementation.”
The issue of youth empowerment in infrastructure through PIDA projects was highlighted by Minister Patricia de Lille who underscored that as infrastructure stakeholders both in the public and private space connect to various industries, it is important to bring the youth along on the journey.
“It would be a detriment to Africa, if the youth were to be neglected”, she said
The hope is that these commitments will not only be on paper but actualized because the realisation of the vision of Agenda 2063 is highly dependent on the implementation of these commitments.