14 November 2012

Ministers Call for Exclusive Funding of Infrastructure Projects in West Africa

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Yamoussokro - Cote d'Ivoire — ECOWAS Ministers in charge of infrastructure have recommended that part of the proceeds of the Community Levy, a 0.5 per cent levy on imports from outside the region, used to finance the organization’s operations, be devoted exclusively to the preparation and funding of Regional infrastructure projects.

In a resolution at the end of their meeting in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire on 9th November 2012, the ministers also called for capacity building of the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) to enable it play a key role as a regional funding instrument for Member States in this sector.

The ministers, in endorsing the report of the two-day experts meeting on the Programme of Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), which preceded the ministerial session, also urged technical and financial partners and donors to accord “high priority to capacity building within the framework of any financial or technical assistance given to ECOWAS,” especially for the development of infrastructure, which is considered catalytic to regional economic development and integration. The African Union, NEPAD and the African Development Bank were also urged to support the implementation of ECOWAS Infrastructure projects.

The ministerial meeting validated a wide-ranging number of infrastructure projects, covering air, land and rail transportation, ICT sectors as well as gas and electricity connectivity projects to be implemented between 2012 and 2020, all at the estimated cost of US$107.5 million. The recommendations/resolutions would be forwarded to the Council of Ministers for adoption and then to the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government for approval. Addressing the opening of the Ministerial Meeting, the Vice-President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, had highlighted the critical role of infrastructure in the achievement of the ECOWAS Vision 2020.

Consequently, he solicited stronger commitment and support to enhance the operations of the West African Power Pool, the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority, the ECOWAS Centre for the Promotion of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency as well as the West African Gas Pipeline Authority and the ECOWAS Bank for investment and Development. The Vice-President noted that “to do nothing or little, about infrastructural development within our sub-region is equivalent to self-strangulation.”

Declaring the PIDA Ministerial meeting open on behalf of Cote d’Ivoire’s Prime Minister His Excellency Jeanot Ahoussou Kouadio, the Minister of Industry, Honourable Moussa Dosso, affirmed that infrastructure would play a major role in facilitating access to landlocked countries, as well as free movement of persons and goods, making economies in the region competitive and thereby boosting socio-economic integration. The Yamoussoukro meetings highlighted the objectives of the PIDA and how it aligns with the continental strategic programming.

They were also meant to sensitize Member States on West Africa’s component of the PIDA Priority Action Plan (PIDA-PAP) and regional development plans to help drive the domestication of PIDA projects in national plans and budgetary provisions. Adopted by the African Union and NEPAD leaders in January 2012, PIDA is based on the premise that a projected annual economic growth rate of 6% for African countries would translate into six-fold increase in GDP for all countries with the average per capita income expected to rise above US$10,000 in the next 30 years. This is expected to result in an increase in the infrastructure demand in all sectors.

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