African policy-makers take stock at inaugural infrastructure meeting in Abidjan

200 (2)More than 150 participants including senior government officials, representatives  from continental organizations  and the private  sector  gathered  in the Ivorian capital for the inaugural   PIDA Week (Programme for Infrastructure Development  in Africa) organized by the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Development Bank. The aim of the high- level  meeting  was  to  evaluate  the  progress  made  toward  the  implementation   of  the  16 priority infrastructure projects identified under the PIDA initiative. These projects were selected and announced at the Dakar Financing Summit  in June 2014 and are of particular strategic,  political and economic importance, most notably because of their transformative power in regional development. Since 2012 progress has been recorded, but several  challenges  lay ahead, delegates heard at the meeting.   Five of the 16 projects have already broke ground: the Abidjan-Lagos  corridor; the Dakar- Bamako rail link; two hydroelectric dams, Sambangalou  in Guinea and Ruzizi III in Rwanda;  and the road from Serenje to Nakonde in Zambia. The others are slated for completion  by 2025. “Once implemented,  the 16 projects are expected to significantly boost Africa’s competitiveness  and business climate,” said Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency. He added, “Trade between countries and regional cooperation are of the utmost importance when it comes to building a strong and sustainable  African economy. By encouraging regional integration,  NEPAD also helps  countries to improve their trade links, to better share their resources, and to build infrastructure that will form the foundations of vital economic diversification for development.” Following the adoption of PIDA in 2012 by the African Union Assembly, the NEPAD Agency has worked with  the  African  Union  Commission,   the  African  Development   Bank,   the  Regional   Economic Communities and key strategic partners to undertake comprehensive monitoring and evaluation of mor e than 400 PIDA Priority Action Plan projects. In June 2014, President Macky Sall of Senegal hosted the Dakar Financing Summit,  where 16 of the 400 projects were identified and endorsed for immediate implementation. The 16 mega-projects  are documented  on a dedicated map designed on the occasion of the PIDA Week. They include transport corridors, energy projects, ICT connections of the hinterland by means of optic fiber and ports. “A new consensus has taken shape in Abidjan. Various workshops  with participants from all over the continent have allowed  us to validate  key steps on the road to developing  our 16 projects. African governments,  the donor community and international investors are now defining a new paradigm that heralds a new era in Africa’s development,  based on the financing and construction of infrastructure that will unlock its economic takeoff,” Dr. Mayaki said. He added that delegates expressed interest in ensuring that the PIDA Week become a major annual event  on Africa’s development  calendar to ensure close monitoring  and evaluation  of the progress achieved. As a catalyst for African integration, the NEPAD Agency works with African nations to develop closer partnerships across borders and to cooperate more effectively with international partners. Its role was cemented in the Union’s Agenda 2063 strategy set forth in 2013. NEPAD is tasked with implementing the major development projects that will shape Africa’s future in six main areas: agriculture and food security, crosscutting topics – gender, capacity building, climate change, infrastructure, human development and governance. *APO]]>

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