The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Vera Songwe, and the African Union’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development, Raila Odinga, met in Addis Ababa on Thursday and discussed ways through which the ECA can support his work to ensure the continent speedily tackles its infrastructure challenges.
The two agreed that fast-tracking transboundary infrastructure on the continent was the only way to ensure full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement for the benefit of its citizens.
They discussed ways to accelerate regional integration and agreed Africa needed to fast-track transboundary energy and transport infrastructure, including key road corridors, if that is to become a reality soon.
“One of the things we are busy working on here at the ECA is the nexus between trade and infrastructure and how we can use it, particularly in the Horn of Africa where we are trying to see how we can use the regional integration and trade conversation to build and capitalize on the peace momentum,” said Songwe.
The former Kenyan Prime Minister praised the ECA for the work it has been doing for the past 60 years in championing the economic and social development of its member States, fostering intra-regional integration, and promoting international cooperation for Africa’s development.
“Your work has a direct link to the work that we are trying to do in the continent on infrastructure. We need to connect our countries through air, rail, road and regional power pools to accelerate implementation and spread the benefit of the AfCFTA,” Odinga said.
The two focused on some of Africa’s key transboundary infrastructure projects such as transnational highway corridors identified as part of the Trans-African Highways Network, the Lamu Port, South Sudan, Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET corridor programme), which is Eastern Africa’s largest and most ambitious infrastructure project, and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Grand Inga Dam, among others.
Sustainable infrastructure projects, they agreed, will spur industrialization and job creation on the continent.
Besides the financial resources needed to for the transboundary infrastructure projects, they also discussed the Luxembourg Protocol on the ownership of railway assets, which was adopted in February 2007.
The protocol to the 2001 Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment is designed to increase the pool of capital finance available for rolling stock investment.
It is expected that the protocol will help African countries save millions of dollars by drastically reducing the price of rolling stock.