16 November 2012

East Africa: Region Agrees On Joint Infrastructure Development

The ministers of Infrastructure and Energy from the East African Community (EAC) have agreed on a mechanism that will ensure joint contribution to the implementation of regional infrastructure projects.

This was announced during a regional muilt-sectoral council meeting that took place in Kigali on Thursday.

Under the new arrangement, each member state will play a role in the implementation of infrastructure projects that benefit the region.

"When our governments take a final decision on the specific projects that must be implemented, this principle will not only simplify but speed up the implementation of the various projects that will open-up and simplify integration," said Amos Kimunya, Kenya's Minister of Transport.

He explained that project being targeted are those that may be local to a certain country, but with great benefit to more countries or other partner states and beyond.

Kimunya, who chaired the meeting, said such projects include railway, roads construction, electricity rol out as well as ports. The meeting also aimed at gathering views from each country about the priority infrastructure projects.

Decisions of the meeting will be presented and discussed by the Heads of State during their meeting that will take place in Nairobi, Kenya on November, 29.

The Heads of State meeting is aimed at, among other things, scrutinising what the Ministers agreed upon and finally come up with projects to be implemented as well as the financing mechanism.

A source that attended closed the meeting said among other issues, participants discussed and agreed on a number of projects.

"At this point, we can not go in details on the various projects, but what I can say is that there are those that are considered priorities, based on their importance in development and the integration process," the source said.

The New Times also learnt that among other projects that were at the forefront during the discussion included the proposed Dar es Salaam - Isaka - Rusumo - Kigali - Keza - Musongati railway project. This railway line will connect Rwanda and Burundi to Tanzania's port of Dar es Salaam, thereby linking Rwanda to the sea; something that is expected to create business opportunities and boost economic activities.

This will base on the much cheaper route the railway line will create in transporting bulky goods from the port.

The African Development Bank is expected to fund the project through grants and loan agreement with the EAC members. It is estimated to cost US$5.1 billion.

Ministers who attended the meeting are optimistic that the new approach is also a step to minimising misappropriation of funds, facilitate skills sharing as well as speeding up regional development.

The State Minister in charge of Transport, Dr Alex Nzahabwanimana, said that on the side of Rwanda, there are many projects that need to be implemented.

He pointed out the Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric and Multipurpose Project that is expected to increase power production in Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.

Rusizi III power project was also among the priorities for Rwanda. This project is expected to generate 147MW production that will be equally shared by Burundi, Rwanda and DRC as well as the road construction project of Ngoma - Nyanza road among other projects.

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