Raila backs special African fund to plug continental infrastructure deficit

African Union High Representative on Infrastructure Development Raila Odinga has called for establishment of an African special fund that will accelerate development of regional projects key in facilitating trade in the continent.

While addressing the Spotlight on Africa-Infrastructure Development forum held in Dubai Exhibition Centre at Expo 2020 Dubai, Odinga said the fund could be established through partnerships and coordination by public and private sector stakeholders as well as other development partners in derisking infrastructure projects through guarantees.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates that between $130-170 billion is needed to fund Africa infrastructure development needs.

“While these figures may appear large they represent a small percentage of the financial resources that exist in the continent in both the government and private sectors. It is worth noting for example that the African pension funds manage approximately $350 billion of assets in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Odinga said.

Odinga gave an example of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport corridor as a key regional project that has lagged behind and whose implementation could be accelerated through the special fund.

AU has identified 70 regional projects to be implemented under Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) and Priority Action Plan 2 (PIDA-PAD2) 2021-2030 which the AU infrastructure development representative says will require prioritization of financing for project preparation.

However under the PIDA-PAP1, despite $82 billion of infrastructure financing being committed between 2012-2020, 30% of the projects failed in the feasibility stage.

According to Odinga, gaps hindering project financing such as feasibility studies which have on their own have become industries on their own in Africa, continue to waste funds which could go into project implementation.

“Inability to secure the needed resource for adequate project preparation is of great concern and requires innovative intervention. This is especially so with all the PAP projects which are regional in nature and require national ownership and regional commitment. Regional priority infrastructure projects must be incorporated in national development plans and also be part of the regional economic commission infrastructure master plans. This is the only way the numerous missing links in rail and road in Africa can be developed,” he remarked.

Odinga further called for human capacity development and provision of energy to African cities and villages in order to accelerate economic and growth development targets by 20140.

Expo 2020 Dubai also provides an opportunity to be a part of the created innovative solutions, following consultations with the 55 AU member states in how to increase the quality of life and well-being of all African citizens.


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