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AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, attended in Lusaka, Zambia on April 6, 2009 a two-day high-level financing conference on the North-South Corridor.
The event has brought together four African heads of state, namely; Presidents Rupiah Banda of Zambia, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Kgalema Mothlante of South Africa. Other donor institutions represented at the event include the DFID, World Bank, the European Union, Japan, France, the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Finland. Donors are expected to work collaboratively in support of the initiative, delivering a coherent and harmonized solution to trade and infrastructure issues along the corridor.
The North-South Corridor Pilot Aid for Trade Programme is a joint COMESA-EAC-SADC initiative designed to reduce the transportation time and the costs of surface transport. High costs, especially for landlocked countries, and above average transit delays result in lower production and trading levels which, in turn, limit the potential to raise gross domestic product growth rates.
The North South Corridor comprises two priority NEPAD Corridors:
Together with its adjacent spurs, the corridor services eight countries – Tanzania, DR Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa.
The North-South Corridor is the busiest corridor in the region in terms of values and volumes of freight and it is expected to get even busier in the years to come. However, if the volumes of imports and exports that use the North-South Corridor continue to grow at the current rate, the infrastructure on the corridor will collapse unless remedial actions are taken.
The range of planned projects include the upgrading of 4,000 km of road and the rehabilitation of 600 km of rail track, and to increase the Southern African Power Pool with 35 Giga Watts of new power generation region by 2015. Improvements on the North-South Corridor, if implemented sequentially, could lead to transport cost savings to African based businesses in the order of US$50 million per year by, among other things, greatly improving time taken to move goods around the region.
The project represents a new and innovative approach to supporting and developing regional infrastructure projects. For the first time at a regional level, investments in infrastructure are being made alongside measures to address trade facilitation and regulation. Another innovation is the holistic and regional approach the programme takes to transport system planning and maintenance, the aim of which is to give producers in the region access to a greater choice of road and rail networks.
The North-South Corridor programme includes the maintenance and upgrading of roads, establishing a system to link weigh bridges electronically, and rehabilitating rail track along the corridor. Faster border crossings, improved railways and highways will enable producers and traders, especially in landlocked countries, to transport their goods quickly and access more easily regional and international markets, stimulating economic growth and inward investment.