Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The East African regional consultation workshop, shaping the rigorous project selection process for the second phase of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, also known as PIDA PAP2 (2021-2030), was held for the East African Member States and their Specialised Institutions. The three-day workshop, March 11th till March 13th, was launched by the African Union Commission (AUC) with the purpose of providing the Member States and specialized institutions such as EAC and IGAD with the necessary information and tools to prioritize gender-inclusive, environmentally friendly and smart infrastructure projects that will create jobs and economic opportunities for the African people. Taskforce members nominated from UNECA were instrumental in providing support and training for this workshop and will later be tasked with the screening and selection of projects for PIDA PAP2 along with AUC, AUDA-NEPAD, and AfDB.

The AUC, in collaboration with AUDA-NEPAD, AfDB, and UNECA, developed the integrated corridor approach framework as a strategic basis for the PIDA Priority Action Plan 2. This approach captures specific goals of addressing youth employment and education, strengthening gender-inclusive socioeconomic development, smart innovation and technologies, environmentally sustainable communities and economies, and regional connectivity through world-class infrastructure as outlined by Agenda 2063 Aspirations 1, 2, and 6. In this regard, the PIDA strategic objective contributes to the achievement of the aspiration of Agenda 2063.

Mr. Zachariah Kingori Project Coordinator at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), highlighted that IGAD is at the final stage of preparation of its infrastructure master plan and was eager for its input towards PIDA PAP 2 project selection process. Eng. Murenzi Daniel, Principal Information Technology Officer at the East African Community (EAC), emphasized Infrastructure as a core business and activity of the EAC commission. And highlighted the need for harmonized standards and M&E framework scorecard as key milestones to be undertaken in the PIDA PAP 2 process.

Mr. Robert Lisinge, Chief of Energy, Infrastructure and Service section, at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in the opening remarks, emphasized the importance of developing a transparent and inclusive project selection method for member states and reiterated UNECA’s commitment to supporting the AUC throughout the development and implementation of the PIDA PAP2.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Cheikh Bedda, Director of Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission, recognized the presence of the State Minister of Water from the Federal Republic of Ethiopia and his commitment to the PIDA PAP 2 process. He then underlined the importance of the training with regard to the roadmap for the implementation of the PIDA PAP2. Mr. Bedda encouraged the focal persons of the Member states to be proactive in the project selection process and advised delegates to make use of their time at the workshop, given the limited time available for the project submission. Furthermore, he emphasized the significance of UNECA as the secretariat to the task force which has access to the UN system, “The proposed projects will be in line with the AU Agenda 2063 aspirations as well as the Sustainable Development Goals, UN agenda 2030”.

Given that project identification, consolidation and project selection processes for regional impact constitute important, yet challenging responsibilities, the capacity building workshop is designed to provide administrative support and training to the Member States and RECs, while the question and answer sessions, interactions and networking opportunities will contribute to strategic dimensions of projects.  In the end, the projects selected would reflect the integrated corridor approach with at least one project per sector – transport, energy, ICT, and trans-boundary water resources, per region. The Member States must first identify priority projects so that ultimately the projects reflect their needs and their needs as the main stakeholders. The process is designed so that the Member States would coordinate and propose their projects to RECs, who are required to validate the projects as aligned to their Master plans, or the RECs can assume a more active role of doing the coordination and submitting the projects on behalf of Member States.

At the end of the project submission window, the final projects will be submitted to the Task Force members to analyze, evaluate and prioritize according to the eligibility and project selection criteria. While the eligibility criteria focus on regional integration, the project selection criteria concentrate on inclusiveness and sustainability with regard to gender sensitivity, rural connectivity, and environmental friendliness. The prioritization process will lead to a shortlist of high impact projects, which will be submitted to the African Heads of State and Government for adoption during the AU Summit in January 2021.

Concerns from member states included ownership of projects and the need for AfDB and other Development Finance Institutions providing financing for projects that may not be attractive to the private sector. Another important issue discussed was the opportunity to build on the PIDA PAP1 infrastructure assets by including them as PIDA PAP2 projects or by proposing complementary projects. 10 projects are to be selected for each of the five regions – Northern Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, and Southern Africa regions. In addition to that, one project is reserved for each of the 6 Islands States, totaling the PIDA PAP2 project count to 56.

Member States in attendance of this East African regional workshop were the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Republic of Burundi, Republic of Djibouti, Federal Republic of Somalia, Republic of South Sudan, Republic of Sudan, Republic of Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Uganda. The continental and regional organizations were UNECA, EAC, and IGAD. Technical support for PIDA is provided by the EU and GIZ.

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