African Development Bank invests US$11 billion in COMESA

African Development Bank invests US11 billion in COMESAThe African Development Bank (AfDB) has invested US$11bn in infrastructure development across the COMESA region in the last five years

The bank has also invested part of the funds to boost trade and economic growth through regional integration in various African regions and sub-regions.

Freddie Kwesiuga, AfDB country representative for Zambia said the bank has financed bridges, roads, border ports, a fibre optic network, energy centres, railways, airports and ports that have linked the region and African countries to the world.

“Regional integration has always been the mandate of the bank to unlock vast potential of Africa by integrating its economies. Over the past five years, the bank has invested approximately US$11bn in the construction of necessary infrastructure to boost Africa’s trade and economic growth,” he elaborated.

Kwesiuga was speaking at the launch of the COMESA Chapter of Africa Community of Practice (AfCoP) in Lusaka on 14 May 2013.

AfCoP is a coalition of more than 2,500 leaders with the objective of improving the lives of Africans through the managing for development results (MfDR) approach, which will help address regional integration challenges.

Africa must however realise that regional integration is not only limited to infrastructure but also made of institutions and regulations designed to encourage free movement of goods, services and capital, Kwesiuga added.

The partnership with AfCoP and COMESA will accelerate the implementation of regional policies.

It has been observed that although African leaders have always committed to working towards regional integration, it is clear that national objectives still prevail over regional priorities.

“Challenges often listed to explain slow regional integration include lack of political will, limited national and regional capacity, low convergence of socio-economic policies, weak citizen participation in the regional integration process and limited coordination between national and regional policy programmes,” Kwesiuga explained.

COMESA acting secretary general Kipyego Cheluget said regional integration in Africa continues to face challenges, hence the need for political commitment among member states.

Cheluget cited the ability for the region to take decisions through the legislative and planning resource allocation process as the main challenge.

“A strategy to address the challenges must focus on having an intimate knowledge of the regional and national political dynamics,” he said.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordham has said that lack of infrastructure and future investments are key factors hampering Africa’s economic development and job creation.

The development of infrastructure in energy, roads, railway and social infrastructure is paramount to boosting the continent’s growth and promoting regional trade.

Gordham was speaking recently during the World Economic Forum held in Cape Town that attracted more than 1,000 participants from 80 countries.

“Africa needs something like US$90bn per year over the next 20 years to fulfil its infrastructure requirements. Some US$45bn must be available from within African resources but there is a financing gap of some US$50bn per year over the period,’’ he elaborated.

Infrastructure development and how the continent will be industrialised was the centre of discussions at the event.

Boosting Africa’s trade will require industrialisation, adding value to the goods produced and improving on infrastructure to allow intra-trade.

“We in Africa are on a threshold of a very different, important and exciting year. It is an era we all recognise that the talking is over, where tough decisions need to be made by ourselves and there are partners around the globe that can make out dreams comes true,’’ Gordham said.


Nawa Mutumweno

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