7 November 2012

ECOWAS Calls for Comprehensive Action Plan for Infrastructure Development in West Africa

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Yamoussoukro - Cote d'Ivoire — ECOWAS has called on Member States and other stakeholders to evolve a comprehensive and concerted Action Plan to advance the development of infrastructure programme and projects in the region.

Speaking at the opening of a two-day Regional Experts Meeting in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire on Wednesday 7th November 2012 on the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure Mr. Ebrima Njie, noted that the lack of adequate infrastructure and efficient services constituted “major bottlenecks to the attainment of regional socio-economic development and integration.”

Consequently, he said the region continues to struggle under “economic backwardness,” in spite of its rich agricultural and mineral resource endowments. While commending development partners and donors including the World Bank, European Union and the African Development Bank for their continued support to ECOWAS, he stressed the need for “strong cooperation and coordination between all PIDA stakeholders,” to make the region and the continent competitive and major players in the global market economy.

With the strong support coming from regional Heads and State and Government, the Commissioner also urged PIDA stakeholders to move fast on the identified priority areas especially transport, energy and ICT programmes, to avoid overlapping so that they can leverage on the economies of scale to optimize efficiency.

Speaking in the same vein while declaring the meeting open, Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister for Economic Infrastructure Honourable Patrick Achi, called for an institutional framework that will ensure prioritization, harmonization and coherence in the implementation of PIDA. Describing infrastructure as key to sustainable development, he said: “We have to do things differently,” adding that “Africa must not solely depend on donors, but “must make contributions, by bringing some seed money” for the effective and efficient implementation of the PIDA Priority Action Plan (PIDA- PAP). The Minister also stressed the need for the development of human capital or capacity building, to bring relevant expertise and innovative ideas to help Africa move forward economically.

Mr. Augustin Tompieu-Zouo, Commissioner for Transport and Tourism at the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) Commission, and the representative of the African Union (AU), Dr. Moctar Yedali, both underscored the importance of infrastructure to Africa’s development and pledged the commitment of their respective organization to the implementation of PIDA-PAP. They also commended the ECOWAS Commission for its initiative in organizing the experts meeting which will be followed on Friday 9th November 2012 by a meeting of regional Ministers in charge of infrastructure on the same subject.

The meetings will introduce Ministers and Experts to the objectives of the African Union PIDA and how it aligns with the continental strategic programming. It will also further sensitize Member States on West Africa’s component of the PIDA-PAP and regional development plans to help drive the domestication of PIDA projects in national plans and budgetary provisions. This is a follow-up to the decision of the 41st ordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, in Yamoussoukro, in June 2012, which emphasized the importance of infrastructure to the improvement of the competitiveness of the Region.

The summit directed the ECOWAS Commission to intensify its efforts in regional infrastructure development and the mobilization of the necessary resources towards this end. PIDA is based on an assumption that with a projected annual economic growth rate of 6% for African countries, GDP for all countries will grow six times and the average per capita income will rise above US$10,000 in the next 30 years with anticipated increase in the infrastructure demand in all sectors. The Programme was adopted by the 18th Summit of the African Union, the 26th Summit of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee and the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government, all held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012.

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