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Infrastructure, a catalyst for Africa’s development

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The first-ever Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week opened on Friday, November 13 in Abidjan, with the African Development Bank (AfDB) reiterating its commitment to supporting efforts seeking to address the continent's infrastructure needs.

Moono Mupotola, AfDB's Director for NEPAD, Regional Integration and Trade, said implementation of the PIDA Priority Action Plan (PAP) projects, which PIDA Week will examine, will have a direct impact on the Bank's ability to deliver on its five new focus areas. Under the new AfDB President, those priorities are to Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialise Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the African people.

"Energy plays a big part in industrialisation and job creation," Mupotola said, adding that the energy sector will consume 59 percent of PIDA PAP's estimated investment of US $68 billion to be realised in 2020. The other sectors are transport, water and ICT.

In bridging the financing gap, Ibrahim Mayaki, NEPAD Agency's Chief Executive Officer, called on private sector participation and the need to increase domestic resources in the face of dwindling donor assistance. "We need bankable projects to attract private sector investment," he said.

The discussions also highlighted the issue of sound policy measures and reforms to guarantee private sector partnership that will lead to, among other things, job creation.

Job creation, particularly for the youth, could be realised through developing agriculture, which goes hand-in-hand with boosting rural infrastructure, according to Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, African Union's Commissioner for rural economy and agriculture. She described infrastructure as a catalyst for achieving most of Africa's development.

"I see a lot of connectedness between infrastructure, agriculture, rural development and trade," she stated. "Infrastructure has increased intra-African trade from 11 to 16 percent in the past few years, she noted.

Over the last decade, the AfDB has invested directly over US $30 billion in infrastructure, which has constituted over 50 percent of the Bank's lending activities.

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