AU refocuses on rural areas

The African Union (AU) has pledged to renew its focus on infrastructure development in rural and remote areas.

Member states recently gathered in Swakopmund, Namibia, for the 2017 Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week. Delegates agreed that Africa should up its game in mobilising domestic resources to fund the complete implementation of the five selected projects and promote the maximal use of local content within the beneficiary countries and regions.

The five projects are the Central Corridor (Dar es Salaam to Chalinze Toll Road), Kinshasa-Brazzaville Road and Railway Bridge, Ethiopia-Sudan Power Interconnector, Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Power Connection and the Batoka Hydropower Plant.

“We want to reach a point where our discussions are no longer focused on our shortage of funds, but rather on our collaboration and concrete accomplishments to leverage PIDA projects for the economic transformation of Africans, especially the youth.

“I call upon all member states to commit themselves to the development of PIDA projects on the ground and to renew their focus to infrastructure development in rural and remote areas,” the African Union Commission’s Infrastructure and Energy Director, Cheikh Bedda, said.

The week was held under the theme ‘The Regional Infrastructure Development for Job Creation and Economic Transformation’.

In their final communique, delegates called upon AU member states, as well as the Continental Business Network (CBN), to provide adequate resources for PIDA project preparation facilities and for the engagement of partner organisations.

They called for bilateral development partners to provide the necessary technical and financial support for the implementation of PIDA Priority Action Plan projects by 2020 and to continue consultations with the African Union Commission to mobilise domestic resources for the preparation of PIDA projects.

Delegates said there was a need for the continent to support the PIDA Model Law and expand it to address issues such as skills transfer, job creation and training. The model law seeks to harmonise cross-border rules, regulations, laws and policies governing transboundary infrastructure projects in Africa and to unlock investment opportunities for the continent.

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