Arusha — Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has said that the EAC region will continue to invest in the infrastructure that facilitates all other development objectives of the region.
"It is a recognized fact that infrastructure is an enabler that facilitates all other development objectives and that is why a large proportion of resources will continually be invested in this sector," he said at the opening of the EAC summit on infrastructure.
He said that the enhancement of transport efficiency results in the reduction of transportation costs and the faster movement of goods and persons. "This in turn increases economic activities and improves the socio-economic wellbeing of our people," he said. On the other hand, increased power production and interconnected power grids facilitate the necessary industrial development of the region through the availability of reliable and cost effective power supply. This is a prerequisite for attracting foreign and domestic investment as well as sustaining local industries.
President Mwai Kibaki pointed out the tremendous progress made over the last five years since the first retreat. He said that the roads subsector across the region has received the largest amount of investment in infrastructure.
Roads across East Africa have been constructed, rehabilitated and expanded while other major road projects are currently underway in various transport corridors.
In addition, one-stop border posts are being implemented in various parts of the region to hasten the movement of goods and people across our borders.
The President added that in the port subsector, substantial investments mobilization efforts are ongoing for the Dar-es-Salaam and Mombasa Ports in particular to enhance the container handling capacity.
Further efforts are underway to revitalize ports equipment. In the port of Mombasa, the Government of Kenya has just completed port dredging at a cost of 5.5 billion Kenya Shillings while the work on a second container terminal which will handle over one million Twenty Foot Equivalent Units is underway.
In the aviation and airports subsector, major airport rehabilitation works have been undertaken at the main International airports in the region.
Nairobi, Dar es Saalam, Kigali, Zanzibar, Bujumbura, Entebbe and Kisumu airports have seen major investments in passenger terminals, hangars, runway improvements and air navigation enhancement technologies.
He attributed the success of the projects to support extended to the region by the African Development Bank, the World Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency, the European Union, China and other bilateral donors.
He said the region needs to prioritize the rural energization programmes and access feeder roads that should be made motorable and thus connect millions of our rural and semi-urban populations to the major highways, markets and opportunities.
He explained that currently, less than five percent of cargo in East Africa is moved by rail.
President Kibaki said that this puts a major strain on the roads adding with volumes expected to triple in the next 15 years, the problem will become more pronounced.