The development of infrastructure is essential for the African continent's growth and development, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
Speaking at the opening of the Infrastructure Africa Business Forum in Sandton, Johannesburg, Minister Davies said infrastructure is an essential and fundamental catalyst for regional integration.
"As the government of South Africa we categorically stated that the development of infrastructure is an essential and absolutely fundamental catalyst for regional integration for increased inter-regional trade and for industrialisation in Africa. Therefore, infrastructure development lies in the very heart of our efforts to promote high levels of inclusive growth and development throughout the continent," said Minister Davies on Monday.
The Minister also spoke of a deficit in infrastructure that is necessary to support high levels of inter-regional trade that connects African countries to one another.
"As a continent Africa has an infrastructure deficit estimated at $93 billion per annum for the next 20 years. Colonialism has created infrastructure that was only geared towards the continent fulfilling its role as mere producer and exporter of primary commodities that were taken to other people's economies. There is a huge amount of catch-up that we need to undergo as a continent in order to achieve regional integration," he told the forum.
He explained that in addition to the infrastructure deficit, Africa was losing over 40% of its competitiveness as a continent due to the absence of infrastructure or inefficiency of established infrastructure.
"The critical role of infrastructure development in achieving integration, growth and development in Africa can never be overemphasised. Through Infrastructure development we can provide roads, rail, ports, energy transmission lines and ICT connectivity that are all necessary to facilitate economic development."
Minister Davies said infrastructure development can be used to support the industrialisation.
Regional integration, he said, went hand in hand with free trade areas, infrastructure development and cooperation which are essential in promoting industrial development across the continent.
"We need to partner to build the required infrastructure and the real capability that will assist all of us build our countries. Adequate, effective, affordable and well-maintained infrastructure is an essential tool for Africa's growth and development.
"We as South Africa are committed to doing everything possible to unlock the opportunities as we address the infrastructure deficit in the continent because we recognise the important role that infrastructure can play in the industrialisation of the African continent," said Minister Davies.