AfDB Pledges US$600 Million for North-South Corridor Activities

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Tunis, 7 April 2009–The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has pledged to invest US$600 million in the activities of the North-South corridor in the short-to-medium term. The announcement was made by the AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, on April 6, 2009, during a keynote address at the Tripartite North-South Corridor Pilot Aid for Trade Programme Conference, held in Lusaka, Zambia. 

The high-level conference brought together several African heads of state, including Presidents Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and host, Rupiah Banda of Zambia. Other participants included UK Trade Minister, Thomas Gareth; Vice President of the World Bank’s Africa Region, Obi Ezekwesili; WTO Director General, Pascal Lamy; and the EU Commissioner for Trade, Catherine Ashton; as well as representatives of the European Investment Bank and Standard Chartered Bank Group.

The two-day conference is jointly organized by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as a follow-up on a tripartite summit held in Kampala in October 2008. The multi-RECs initiative aims at reducing the time and costs associated with road and rail transportation in South Central and East African regions. The corridor covers the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Mr. Kaberuka noted that the “pledging” conference represented a new form of aid delivery to the continent; financing regional activities as opposed to the standard national stand-alone interventions. He further informed the gathering that the theme of the conference tied in directly with the Bank Group’s Medium Term Strategy (2008-2012). He observed that the conference was highly timely given that the global economic recession had increased the risk perception of private-sector investors in public infrastructure. He appealed to the member governments to sustain political support exhibited by the presence of four African heads of state. He observed that care and maintenance form a critical component of the development of lasting infrastructure.

While thanking the three regional economic communities for the strategic initiative, Mr. Kaberuka said that the Bank would continue to support similar initiatives across the continent in order to improve Africa’s inland connectivity. Pledges, worth US$1.9 billion, were made in the short term with the potential for additional financing in the medium-to-long term. Donor-specific financing details would be confirmed at the end of the conference.

All four African heads of state decried the continent’s long standing problem of poor infrastructure and balkanisation, which underscored the need to fast-track initiatives that will foster trade and regional integration. They further pledged to support the initiative, including directly contributing to specific projects in all possible ways.

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