Victoria Falls — Addressing Africa's infrastructure gap remains an imperative that African governments should continue to take seriously if the continent is to realise the aspirations its people as enshrined in the continent's blueprint for development, Agenda 2063 and the global agenda for sustainable development.
Ministers and delegates attending the fourth Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, agreed firm political commitment was necessary for the development of key transboundary infrastructure projects that will integrate the continent economically and socially for the benefit of its people.
"Given the infrastructure backlog in the continent, we have to keep up the efforts to accelerate development of key infrastructure projects. PIDA projects, especially transboundary infrastructure projects, will bolster regional integration and are a pre-requisite for unleashing Africa's growth potential," they agreed in their communique.
Africa, they said, has to increase projects under construction from the current 32 to 50 percent if it is to achieve its developmental aspirations.
The delegates said the continent should create an enabling environment for the private sector to have space to buy into the continent's key priority projects.
"The private sector will not come on board if issues of trust are not mitigated," they agreed.
"Establishing good governance frameworks and mechanisms for Africa's infrastructure projects will not only boost investor confidence, it will also guarantee timely delivery of projects within budget and to specification."
They also agreed that it is essential for the continent to develop bankable and smart infrastructure with cross border orientation to propel socio-economic growth on the continent with governments being urged to proactively all stakeholders, in particular communities to make the projects inclusive and true enablers for development.
De-risking of projects is necessary and critical to ensure they are bankable to attract capital that has remained largely elusive. Infrastructure, the delegates agreed, should not remain in the public sector domain with governments being urged to engage the private sector for long term projects.
The delegates emphasized the importance of strong institutions in Africa's infrastructure development.
"The relevant institutions should facilitate capacity building in key areas of infrastructure development in the continent. This will boost technical capacity and skills at all levels of the project life cycle as well as relevant institutions to ensure efficient development and management infrastructure," reads the communique.
The PIDA Quality Label received recognition as a framework needed to ensure projects fulfil set criteria.
To realize NEPAD's 5 percent Agenda and the African Infrastructure Guarantee Mechanism (AIGM), the delegates recommended the establishment of PIDA project specific working groups to focus on data transparency and dissemination; advocacy work; project development; review and funding; partnerships and capacity building.
The partners, including the African Union Commission (AUC), NEPAD Agency, the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), vowed to continue working together to put in place sustainable capacity building mechanisms for key infrastructure sectors on the continent and to invest in efforts to accelerate development of key infrastructure projects.
They also pledged to launch and use the PIDA Job Creation Toolkit as a part of the package and means to attract and convince pertinent stakeholders, including financiers and development partners on the benefits of key PIDA priority projects in the construction phase.
They recommended that PIDA PAP 2 (2020-2030) draws from the ongoing review and consultative process and ensure that it is has a realistic list of projects that should be inclusive of all sectors;
- the integration of several key issues including smart and integrated corridor approaches, renewable energy; youth and gender sensitivity potentials of projects in the development of the Second Phase of the PIDA;
- and a strong communications strategy to communicate progress on priority PIDA projects and facilitate sharing of lessons and experiences on the implementation of PIDA projects.
In his closing remarks, Zimbabwe's State Minister for Matebeleland North Province, Richard Moyo emphasized the need for Africa to accelerate the implementation of PIDA projects.
"This will allow us to add impetus to the continent's integration process. We need to have the right infrastructure mix and align our national infrastructural projects to the PIDA programme for collective gain," he said, adding nothing was impossible if Africa united and stayed focused on what it would have agreed to.
Nepad Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, also reiterated the need for the continent to accelerate the delivery of infrastructure projects as one.
"We also need to continue enabling a constructive dialogue with all the partners, including the private sector so that we can deliver concretely," he said, adding over the past three days participants had managed to enhance their partnerships as "we fight for a peaceful, united and prosperous humanity".
For his part, the African Union's Infrastructure Director, Mr. Cheik Bedda emphasized the importance of good governance to promote infrastructural development that will positively impact the continent's economies.
Representatives of the European Union and the GIZ, a major partner to Nepad and its partners in the PIDA programme, also spoke in support of Africa's quest for an integrated infrastructure network.
"Big change is on the way for Africa through PIDA and we have to stay the course. Huge investments are required for it to become a reality. We as GIZ are with you. There are also huge opportunities in terms of human capital as well for the continent at all levels," said GIZ African Union Office Director, Ms. Inge Baumgarten.
The 4th PIDA Week was being held under the theme; Realizing Africa's Integration through Smart Infrastructure and Good Governance.