AfDB Helps Lay Ground for AU Executive Council, Summit Meetings

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Addis Ababa, 29 January 2009 – The Executive Council of the African Union (AU) began its twelfth ordinary session in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday with Infrastructure Development in Africa as its main theme.

Infrastructure Development in Africa as is also the theme of the AU Summit of Heads of State and Government that will follow from 1-3 February.

The Bank has played a key role in events leading to the two meetings. On Thursday, it took a lead role in the Africa Infrastructure Day hosted by the African Union Commission at headquarters in Addis Ababa to prepare for the Council and Summit meetings.

Its Director of the Infrastructure Department at the African Development Bank, Gilbert Mbesherubusa and Alex Rugamba, Head of Infrastructure Consortium for Africa, established during the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005 and hosted by the African Development Bank, made key presentations at the event.

Officially titled an ‘Open Day Dedicated to Infrastructure in Africa’, the one day event featured discussions by African and non-African experts on a host of issues related to the development, financing and management of infrastructure projects in Africa.

Like the AfDB, the African Union Commission believes the development of infrastructure is critical to the economic growth of Africa. Again like the Bank Group, the African Union Commission also believes in the acceleration of infrastructure development on the continent.

The two institutions also share a history of cooperation in this field.  This cooperation is carried out mainly through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) whose strategic framework was formally adopted by the Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity, the predecessor to the AU, at their summit in Maputo, Mozambique, in 2001.

Under NEPAD, the Bank was entrusted with a leading role in Africa’s infrastructure development. The Bank Group programs and projects have been designed and implemented with the aim of furthering this NEPAD mandate.

A further attempt at prioritization is underway and is led by a Task Force comprising the AfDB, the AU, NEPAD and the Development Bank of Southern Africa.
The Task Force held its first meeting on the fringes of the 2008 Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) annual meeting and agreed that the criteria for prioritization would be essentially based primarily on the development impact and strategic alignment. The Task Force will complete its work by March 2009.

The prioritization exercise will be more robust upon completion of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) study being co financed by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Bank.

The Commission said the summit would provide the African Union Commission and other African stakeholders a much needed opportunity to promote appropriate policy for infrastructure development on the continent. Such policy, it added, would make an important contribution to poverty reduction and also help stimulate further social and economic development on the African continent.