Bank Group Participates in Roundtable on African Infrastructure

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Bank Group Participates in Roundtable on African Infrastructure

Bank Group Participates in Roundtable on African Infrastructure African infrastructure ministers met on Thursday in Saly-Portudal, Senegal within the framework of the "NEPAD’s Roundtable on the Financing of Priority Infrastructure." Chaired by Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade, the event brought together the African Union’s Infrastructure and Energy Commissioner, Bernard Zoba; the Islamic Development Bank President, Mohamed Ali; African ministers of infrastructure, representatives of regional economic communities, NEPAD secretariat representatives and Bank Group experts. The infrastructure ministers meeting preceded an experts meeting held on January 23, 2008.

Speaking on the occasion, President Wade said that it was time to concretely carry out important infrastructure projects on the continent. He stressed that documents prepared by the infrastructure and energy commission and submitted to participants during the meeting were complete. He called on African ministers of infrastructure to make a selection of projects, urging them to select, over the next five years, three major road projects, three railway projects, three major bridge construction projects, regional bridges and two or three energy projects which could be approved by African heads of states during the next African summit.

Regarding the participation of donors and development partners, Mr. Wade stressed that "it was not necessary to create other structures given that the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group which is responsible for financial operations has, since its creation, been playing its role very well."

With regard to infrastructure financing, he said the private sector was interested in participating in the financing of infrastructure projects. He revealed that there could be many financing options, ranging from public-private partnerships to multi-state solidarity guarantees. He also proposed financing through government bonds or special drawing rights for Africa.

The meeting enabled participants to examine project briefs prepared by experts after an in-depth exchange of views on resource mobilization mechanisms and the implementation of projects retained. The exchange was followed by financial pledges by representatives of multilateral and multilateral financing institutions.

Speaking during the opening ceremony, Mr. Zoba, said the objective of the meeting was to give impetus to development projects carried out by the African Union in the infrastructure and energy sectors. He called on African countries to choose a list of major continental and regional projects that would help give the continent’s development efforts a shot in the arm. He also called on donors to help provide financing for major continental projects.

During the ministers’ meeting, participants called for a consideration of specific infrastructure project needs of countries such as Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros, Cape Verde, Seychelles, and Sao Tome and Principe.

Also speaking during the meeting, Bank Group Special Adviser, Youssouf Ouedraogo, recalled the important financial and human resources that the Bank Group had mobilized during the period 2002-2007 as an implementation agency and technical adviser regarding NEPAD’s infrastructure programme which was entrusted to the Bank Group by the NEPAD’s implementation committee of heads of state and government in 2001. He also said the Bank Group would support various projects selected by African countries during the meeting. Mr. Ouedraogo also updated participants on actions the Bank Group had taken to meet the expectations of its regional member countries, namely ; the creation of an infrastructure complex led by a vice president, the negotiation of ADF XI replenishment with 60% of its  resources destined for the infrastructure sector during the period 2008-2011, the importance given to regional programmes, the mobilization of additional resources through the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) from multilateral and bilateral partners, sub-regional development banks and the private sector. He underscored that the Bank Group was ready to carry out the mandate that was given to it by African heads of state and government.

The World Bank, for its part, pledged US$ 2.3 billion per year, the Islamic Development Bank which is financing parts of the Alger-Lagos and Dakar-Djibouti corridor promised to provide, over the next three years, two million dollars for studies, US$360 million for infrastructure development and US$40 million for electricity.

The West African Development Bank CFAF 52 billion for road infrastructure and CFAF 48 billion for ICTs. The European Union expressed interest in the Rosso and the Gambia bridges, while the French Development Agency indicated it would like to invest €400 million in regional infrastructure development. The Community Investment and Development Bank (BIDC) promised to invest in the construction of the bridge over the Gambia River. The West African Economic and Monetary Union is looking forward to investing up to CFAF 50 billion over the next five years, including CFAF 10 billion for studies and CFAF 40 billion as counterpart guaranties from member states of the monetary zone.

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