Investment in quality and sustainable infrastructure has been identified as a key priority if the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is to deliver on its mandate for the continent.
That was the message that came through loud and clear at the 6th Programme for Development of Infrastructure in Africa (Pida) Week which opened virtually yesterday.
The AfCFTA’s main objective to boost intra-African trade could only be achieved with adequate quality infrastructure, speakers in the opening session, who included SA International Relations and Cooperation Minister Dr Naledi Pandor, said.
They pointed out that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic had disrupted efforts to deliver key infrastructure projects, but had heightened the need for urgent investment in quality and sustainable infrastructure.
“Infrastructure development in Africa will support the adoption of hygienic practices, delivery of health services, remote working, remote learning, and the continuation of economic activity under disruptive conditions,” said chief executive officer of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-Nepad), Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki.
“The greatest lesson of Covid-19 is that Africans must work hard at implementing African responses to any crisis. I accept we need to have global partners, but they must be strategic additions and not enforced collaborations.”
She added that good governance was crucial if Africa was to attract private investment in key infrastructure projects.
“Africa’s infrastructure development requires investment in the region of US$130bn-US$170bn annually. However, in order to attract this investment, we need to address issues of good governance which affect quality and delivery of infrastructure. Pida project owners need to have capacity and an enabling environment for driving good governance,” said Pandor.
The 6th Pida week marks ten years of the implementation of the first Pida Priority Action Plan (also known as Pida Pap I) and the transition to the second phase of the Programme (Pida Pap II), which will run from 2021 until 2030.
The first plan comprised over 400 projects and at its close in 2020, approximately 50% of those were in some stage of operation, construction, tendering, or financial close.
“The lessons which we can take forward into the implementation of Pida –Pap II is that we need to have efficient use of scarce project preparation funds for early stage project preparation to take projects to bankability,” said Dr Mayaki.