19 June 2012

Zambia: Infrastructure Development Cardinal

COMMERCE, Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary Stephen Mwansa has said infrastructural development programmes should be utilised to drive Africa's industrialisation.

Mr Mwansa who chaired the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) senior officials and experts meeting at the just ended AGOA forum in Washington DC highlighted the need to utilise the infrastructural development programme to support Africa's industrialisation agenda.

He said with three years remaining to the expiration of AGOA, attention was undoubtedly being focused on the extent to which AGOA was meeting its objectives of increasing Africa-US trade and investments.

It was also stressed at the meeting that market access, without trade related infrastructure and adequate productive capacity made it difficult for African countries to become competitive.

He informed the meeting that the senior officials and experts meeting was also taking place against the backdrop of an even more time-sensitive issue, which was the fast approaching expiration of the Third Country Fabric provision on September 30.

The meeting was informed that the African Diplomatic Corps in Washington DC was pursuing the lobby to the US Congress to extend the life of the Third Country Fabric provision, a move that had been supported by the US administration.

However, the meeting resolved to engage the US corporations on a win-win basis to ensure that industrialisation benefits for US investors went along with development benefits for Africa.

Above all, emphasis should be placed on Africa's importance in the global economy, thereby necessitating AGOA's extension beyond 2015 and the Third Country Fabric provision beyond September 2012.

The preferred position was for the latter to run concurrently with the former.

The public private partnership model should also be intensified as a favourable avenue for infrastructure development, whilst infrastructural deficiencies should be minimised through adoption of more efficient management systems.

Mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation should be put in place so that Africa could negotiate with its US counterparts from a position of strength.

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