2010 ICA Annual Meeting Focuses on “Integrating African Economies through Regional Infrastructure”

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The 2010 Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) annual meeting, which opened on Thursday, 6 May 2010, in Tunis, on the theme: “Integrating African Economies through Regional Infrastructure”, focused on integrating economies through regional infrastructure. The meeting was co-chaired by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Executive Vice-President, David Moloney, and African Development Bank (AfDB) Vice President, Bobby J. Pittman. The event brought together high level experts from key international organizations to reflect on major challenges and issues in managing infrastructure knowledge and facilitating infrastructure development in Africa. Discussions also revolved, among others, arou

  • Accelerating successful implementation of regional infrastructure programmes;
  • Delivering Regional Infrastructure in Africa;
  • Public-Private Partnership Frameworks for Regional Infrastructure.

Accelerating successful implementation of regional infrastructure programmesIn a bid to seek concrete actions, more understanding on recent developments and next steps in moving forward on the infrastructure sector agenda on the continent, the meeting drew on highlights of various 2009 reports provided, including the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic (AICD) contribution and the role played by ICA and other partners. Panelists also reviewed progress being made in the delivery of regional infrastructure in Africa on the four priority programmes (harmonization and alignment issues, financing, public-private partnerships and engaging national governments) brokered under the ICA platform. The challenges they are encountering were also reviewed.

Infrastructure is an important development factor and if Africa develops the right infrastructure, it will stand a better chance to deal with the development issues it is facing. The role African institutions and countries can play in removing some of the obstacles to progress on regional projects were explored during the meeting.

Delivering Regional Infrastructure in Africa

Concurrently, another session focused on major infrastructure financiers in Africa and views on how to deliver regional infrastructure and help close the infrastructure gap were heard. Discussions in this regard revolved around linkages between the ICA and these financiers as well as how opportunities for engagement could be enhanced. In the presentation, it was also clear that the issue of the continent’s poor state of infrastructure is a domain in which the AfDB has acquired a level of invaluable experience by financing a large number of projects across the continent.

Workshop on Public-Private Partnership Frameworks for Regional Infrastructure

The meeting also served as a platform to provide responses to a two-fold question: Is a regional PPP framework required to help facilitate investment? What types of targeted technical support is required for regional institutions?

A study recently conducted in 24 African countries shows that the poor state of infrastructure in Sub Saharan Africa – its electricity, water, roads, and information and communications technology (ICT) – cuts national economic growth by 2 percentage points every year and reduces business productivity by as much as 40 percent. There is therefore a growing recognition of the need to leverage additional resources to support delivery of Africa’s infrastructure.

Drawing on lessons learned from concessions in the East and West African railway sector, Vice President Pittman led discussions on the Public-Private Partnership Frameworks for regional infrastructure, with the support of legal and private sector experts.

The AICD is an innovative knowledge program to improve public understanding of Africa's infrastructure situation. It assists policy-makers in setting priorities for current infrastructure investments and provides a baseline for monitoring progress. The AICD is being implemented by the World Bank on behalf of a steering committee chaired by the African Union Commission, and comprising the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the African Development Bank, Africa’s regional economic communities, and donors investing in African infrastructure.