ECOWAS, Other Stakeholders Review Implementation of African Infrastructure Development Programme

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Johannesburg-South Africa — A three-day international workshop is underway in Johannesburg, South Africa on the implementation of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) and private sector financing of infrastructure in the continent.

Participants at the meeting which opened on Wednesday, 17th April 2013, include ECOWAS officials and their counterparts from other Regional Economic Communities (RECs), as well as the African Union, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Adopted by the African Union and NEPAD leaders in January 2012, PIDA is based on an assumption that with a projected annual economic growth rate of six per cent 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.

ECOWAS ministers and experts from the infrastructure sector met recently in Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire to discuss the objectives of the PIDA and how it aligns with the continental strategic programming as well as 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.

Mr. Jules Gogoua of the ECOWAS Commission's Infrastructure Directorate, who is leading a six-member ECOWAS delegation, briefed the Johannesburg workshop on ECOWAS' five PIDA PAP Projects covering energy and gas connectivity, ICT and transportation.

PIDA, he said, is in line with the objectives of ECOWAS' Vision 2020 for a citizen-centred community that promotes free movement of persons, goods and services and where the population enjoys the benefits of the region's rich natural resources. In his opening statement to the workshop jointly organized by the African Union and the WEF, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO, NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, said: “It is time for Africa to be ambitious,” in addressing its development challenges, particularly those related to infrastructure development. “We have to be ambitious because Africa has the capacity, the institutions and the resources,” he affirmed.

Stressing the need for coordination of regional and continental efforts to overcome Africa's infrastructure deficit, Dr. Mayaki said “we must not only work together, we must deliver together.” Speaking in the same vein, Mr. Ralph Olaye, Manager, NEPAD/Infrastructure at the African Development Bank, said that Africa's development through the implementation of PIDA should be anchored on four pillars - integrated development, infrastructure as priority, private sector development and governance.

In his remarks, Mr. Aboubakari Baba Moussa, Director, Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union, charged participants to come up with concrete recommendations to fast-track the implementation of PIDA and thereby foster the development of RECs and Africa's transformation. Communication experts from the African Union, NEPAD, ECOWAS and other RECs also met on the margins of the workshop to fine tune a draft PIDA Communication Strategy and Action Plan, which will drive the implementation of the continental infrastructure development programme.

Apart from ECOWAS, other RECs represented at workshop are the Common Market for East and Central Africa (COMESA), the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The ECOWAS delegation included Messrs Raphael Koffi, Olumuyiwa Shokunbi and Chris Appiah, all from the Infrastructure Directorate of the ECOWAS Commission as well as Mr. Paul Ejime of the Communication Directorate.

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