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Oversight Committee members and more than thirty (30) observers recently attended the 5th NEPAD-IPPF Oversight committee (OC) meeting at the Bank headquarters in Tunis. The meeting discussed the progress report of NEPAD–IPPF, NEPAD-IPPF vision statement, and the 2007 Indicative Work Plan. The vision of the NEPAD-IPPF Special Fund is "to be the lead project preparation facility in Africa, playing a catalytic role in mobilizing resources for the preparation of regional infrastructure projects and programs, in support of NEPAD goals for sustainable development and poverty reduction through enhanced economic integration".
The Committee which comprises representatives of funding agencies like Canada Fund for Africa (CIDA) and Government of Denmark, the African Development Bank (ADB), the African Union and NEPAD Secretariat was constituted to give policy direction and advice for the NEPAD-IPPF Special Fund.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Gantsho, the Vice President for Operations Infrastructure, Private Sector, Regional Integration and Trade welcomed participants to the 5th meeting of the NEPAD-IPPF Oversight Committee meeting. He recognised the presence of key stakeholders, in particular representatives of donor and potential donor countries/institutions to the NEPAD-Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility, Regional Economic Communities, partner institutions and the private sector. He highlighted some of the key achievements of the NEPAD-IPPF especially regarding the support it provides in the preparation of key regional projects. Nonetheless, he observed that with the scale of infrastructure requirements in the continent, the pace of the IPPF must be accelerated both in terms of approvals and disbursement of funds. In this regard, he informed the meeting of actions he has taken towards strengthening the staff compliments of the NEPAD – IPPF team. He requested that the activities of the facility should be accelerated and encouraged stronger partnerships with other project preparation funds. He used the opportunity to encourage potential contributors to the facility to make a firm commitment of funds to the IPPF to facilitate an accelerated development of regional infrastructure on the continent.
As of December, the NEPAD-IPPF has funded the preparation of nine projects amounting to USD 4.75 million. The projects are Kenya-Uganda Oil Pipeline, Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Electricity Interconnection, Benin-Togo-Ghana Electricity Interconnection, COMTEL, East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy), Gambia River Bridge, Ethiopia-Kenya Power Interconnection, Gambia River Basin organization and the Kazalunga Bridge linking Zambia and Botswana. The Ghana-Burkina Faso Electricity interconnection project and the SATA Telecom Backhaul to the East African Submarine Cable System projects are at an advanced stage of processing for approval for a total IPPF grant of USD 1 million.
Due to a number of exogenous factors, including capacity of recipient organizations, the level of disbursement of IPPF Funds is rather low. To ameliorate the situation, the Bank has taken that include the appointment of a Task Manager to oversee IPPF activities under the auspices of the Manager of the NEPAD Division and the recruitment of a long term consultant to assist the IPPF Task Manager to oversee approved projects and accelerated processing of projects and programs. Other actions involve the development of a rolling work plan of the NEPAD-IPPF and enhanced cooperation with funding agencies to minimize timelines in mobilizing co-financing for projects--a key factor that usually delays the processing of IPPF applications.
The Oversight Committee discussed the commitment and capitalization levels of the IPPF and the interest of some donors to contribute to the fund. The Committee noted that with the proposed increase in the IPPF approval ceiling from the current level of US$ 500,000 to US$ 2 million per project would enhance the pace of IPPF commitments. The Policy and Operational guidelines to establish the revised approval ceiling of the IPPF is being presented to the Boards of Directors of the Bank for final approval in line with the instruments establishing the NEPAD-IPPF Special Fund.
Upon review of the draft rolling work plan for the NEPAD-IPPF, the Committee requested that an updated version of the work plan be prepared by January 20th, 2007, taking into account available funds, and priority projects presented by the different regions. On the basis of the proposed work program, the Committee noted that additional funds would be needed by March 2007. In this regard, the Bank, RECs and NEPAD encouraged the contribution of additional funds from existing and potential contributors.
The Committee was informed of actions undertaken by the Bank to mobilise additional funds into the IPPF including a mission to Kuwait Fund where the NEPAD– IPPF was presented and Kuwait Fund was formally invited to contribute to the Special Fund. The mission to Kuwait Fund also visited the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development.
To facilitate coherence in project and financial reporting of the NEPAD-IPPF, the committee adopted the US Dollar as the currency of the NEPAD-IPPF. This will apply with regards to contributions, approvals, and disbursements. The committee agreed that an audit of the NEPAD – IPPF shall be conducted on an annual basis.
Responding to encouragements to enhance cooperation with other project preparation funds, the AfDB team informed the OC and observers that a meeting on the "tunnel of funds" approach was scheduled on the same day with representatives of PPIAF, IFC, DBSA, EIB, key power pool and Rocs representatives, and that the document to formalize cooperation with AFD/DBSA PPFS was under review by the Legal department of the Bank.
The tunnel of funds concept was developed by the Bank to encourage collaborative financing of the preparation of infrastructure projects from conception to the stage where projects achieve capital financing.
Mr. Eugene Roberts of the Canada Fund for Africa (CIDA), who had chaired the meeting, congratulated the AfDB team for their timely response to the request made during the fourth OC meeting to prepare a vision statement and an indicative work plan.
The next meeting tentatively scheduled in June or July 2007 shall be hosted by COMESA.