North-South Corridor Financing Conference Ends in Lusaka with Donors Pledging US$1.2 Billion
A two-day conference on the financing of North-South Corridor activities ended on April 7, 2009, in Lusaka, Zambia, with donors and development partners pledging some US$1.2 billion to fund the upgrading of road, rail, ports and energy infrastructure and to support the implementation of trade facilitation instruments.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group had, through its president, Donald Kaberuka, pledged to invest US$600 million in the activities of the corridor in the short-to-medium term. The AfDB, Mr. Kaberuka said, would continue to support similar initiatives across the continent in order to improve Africa’s inland connectivity.
Attended by 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, the conference stressed the need to develop similar Aid-for-Trade programmes in respect of other priority regional transport and transit corridors, especially the improvement of the Central Corridor from the Port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Rwanda and Burundi; the Northern corridor from Mombasa in Kenya to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC; and the Lamu – Southern Sudan – Ethiopia Corridor.
Participants also identified the need for member states to show greater commitment to the identified projects and programmes by providing counterpart funding as well as implementing and harmonizing supporting policies and regulations so as to trigger additional and sustained funding from development partners.
They also underscored the need to put in place an institutional arrangement to support and manage the North-South Corridor Pilot Model for Trade Programme; put in place a mechanism to access and disburse committed funds; identify funding gaps; propose a sequence of implementation; prepare bankable projects; seek ways in which the private sector could come on board and complement public sector investment and financing for the implementation of infrastructure projects.
The conference also enabled participants to seek a way forward by implementing the North-South Corridor Model initiative; promoting wider experience sharing across eastern and southern African corridors and other corridors; and strengthening the alignment and harmonization of programmes and procedures of external development partners as well as deepening the regional integration process through the Tripartite, in particular, and the African Union, in general.
Other participants at the conference 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.