Preparing a pipeline of bankable sustainable infrastructure projects is vital, participants of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week heard as it opened on Monday in Swakapomund, Namibia.
This, according to high-level speakers from the African Union Commission, the NEPAD Agency, the African Development Bank and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is key to closing the infrastructure gap and creating jobs in the continent.
In his official opening address, Namibia’s Minister of Works and Transport, Alpheus GNaruseb called for strong coordination in the implementation of PIDA and the preparation of bankable, investment-ready projects that can attract financing for implementation.
The Director for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission, Cheikh Bedda said that policy makers, infrastructure experts and the private sector have a crucial role to play in training and skills acquisition in infrastructure development to prepare young Africans for the implementation of complex programmes such as PIDA.
“The continent needs as a matter of urgency, to scale-up capacity for project preparation in terms of resources, skills and development of bankable project pipelines to create enough jobs and opportunities for the large African youth population entering the labour market,” Mr. Bedda said.
Reflecting on the mid-term review of the PIDA Priority Action Plan (PAP) that the AUC is currently conducting, the Director stated, “Early indications on the implementation of projects clearly show the critical importance of a sound project preparation, given that more than half of the portfolio of projects are still at the conceptual stage.”
Also speaking at the opening session, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, NEPAD Agency’s Chief Executive Officer, noted that African Heads of State and Government including leaders of Industry and Finance recognize the lack of technical capacity for project preparation as one of the key bottlenecks in the implementation of PIDA projects.
Mayaki explained that ‘the African Union Commission and NEPAD established the PIDA Service Delivery Mechanism (SDM) as an instrument for tackling the lack of technical capacity during the project preparation phase.
“This year NEPAD, under the leadership of the African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, launched the 5 Percent Agenda,” Dr. Mayaki recalled.
Noting that the private and public sectors are joining forces in Africa to create conducive environments to attract investments, which are so vital for the continent’s growth, Dr. Mayaki explained that “the 5 Percent Agenda is a campaign to increase investment allocations by Africa asset owners into African infrastructure from its low base of about 1.5% of their assets under management to an impactful 5%.”
More suggestions on possible solutions came from Mr. Shem Simuyemba, the African Development Bank’s Coordinator for Multi-Donor Special Fund – NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility who highlighted the Bank’s financial commitments to Africa’s infrastructure development, which accounts for half of its total spending.
“The African Development Bank is stepping up the pace by focusing on the High 5 priorities that are crucial for accelerating Africa’s economic transformation. Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa,” Mr. Simuyemba said.
The solution is to scale-up capacity for project preparation and development as the only means to assess, package and structure the projects in such a way that there is a ‘rolling pipeline’ of bankable projects, he added.
Referring to the theme, the Deputy Executive Secretary-Corporate Affairs for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Mrs. Emilie Mushobekwa stated that SADC has taken a multi-pronged approach to accelerate the preparation and implementation of PIDA Projects in the region to facilitate regional integration and job creation.
A case in point, Mrs. Mushobekwa stated that SADC Secretariat has allocated an annual budget since May 2016 to support project preparation to bankability and corridor development.
Co-organized by the African Union Commission, the NEPAD Agency and African Development Bank, Africa’s premier infrastructure meeting, the 2017 PIDA Week is ongoing in Swakopmund, Namibia on the theme “Regional Infrastructure Development for Job Creation and Economic Transformation”.
At the PIDA Week, the NEPAD Agency also launched its pioneering 2017 PIDA Progress Report, which is the outcome of collaboration between all PIDA stakeholders who shared information on projects and interventions on the ground and on progress made during the year.
PIDA, acronym for Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa was adopted by the AU heads of state and government in January 2012 as the reference for Regional and Continental infrastructure development in Africa. PIDA covers four main sectors – transport, energy, information and communication technology as well as transboundary water resources. The programmes are divided into 433 projects, the main implementation phases being short term from 2012 to 2020, medium term from 2020 to 2030 and long term from 2030 to 2040. PIDA projects are 433, with 51 marked as priority. The 2017 commemoration ends on Thursday, 14 December.
After two successive record-breaking years, 2017 PIDA Week is shaping up to be the hottest ever registered, welcoming more than 300 leading thinkers from international institutions, government, academia, business and finance, engaged in ground breaking debate on the opportunities and the challenges of investing in infrastructure in Africa.