AfDB Supports Regional Infrastructure Development US$ 8.6 million Grant for COMESA Unified Airspace

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Tunis, 15 September 2010 - The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group Board of Directors has approved a UA* 5.75-million (US$ 8.6 million) African Development Fund (ADF) grant to finance the Technical Assistance component of the COMESA Airspace Integration Project. COMESA is the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

In order to cope with the growing volume of air traffic worldwide and improve air traffic navigation safety, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has mandated the progressive replacement of existing ground-based air navigation aids by a more cost-effective satellite-based air navigation technology known as Communication Navigation Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM). With this new system, Air Traffic Services from a single control center can cover large areas, thereby facilitating rationalization of investments in infrastructure and equipment.

In order for the COMESA member states and the private sector to finance the regional CNS/ATM infrastructure there is need to put in place the necessary legal, regulatory and institutional framework under which the system will be financed and operated.

In this line the project expected outcomes are:

  • An enabling legal and regulatory framework for a unified upper airspace in the COMESA Region;
  • An adequate institutional framework for providing and regulating regional Air Traffic Services; and
  • The conclusion of the Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangements to finance, build and operate the regional CNS/ATM infrastructure.

The expected total cost for this phase is UA 6.05 million, equivalent to US$ 9.42 million. The Technical Assistance Grant will cover 95% of the cost.

Unified airspace management eliminates duplication of facilities, and results in substantial capital investment savings and enhanced safety.

By amalgamating the fragmented airspace into a single sky management of the region’s airspace would become financially attractive to private sector sponsors. “The expected benefits of this project will be very significant both in economic and financial terms as well as aviation safety. When implemented, the project will also be among the very first and few operational multi-country integrated airspace using satellite-based CNS/ATM” said Mr. Amadou Oumarou, Manager of the NEPAD Division at the AfDB and Task Team Leader for the project.

The establishment of a unified airspace and regional airspace management infrastructure system in the COMESA region is a unique regional integration undertaking supported by COMESA and NEPAD. In line with its policy on promoting regional integration. According to the AfDB Director for Transport and ICT.

Gilbert Mbesherubusa, “The approval of this project shows the commitment of the AfDB to support the regional integrations efforts of our regional member countries by financing not only physical infrastructure projects such as transport corridors and regional power interconnections, but also by supporting the establishment of legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks to facilitate public-private partnerships for the financing and operation of regional infrastructure projects”

The Bank and COMESA signed a cooperation agreement in 1999 to jointly support projects, programs, and activities promoting socio-economic development and regional integration in the COMESA sub-region, which includes 19 State members.

* 1 Unit of account (UA) = US$ 1.5 as at September 2010

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