ADDIS ABABA, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has reiterated that infrastructure deficit in Africa remains a major challenge to trade facilitation, intra-regional trade as well as economic development and transformation on the continent.
According to a statement from ECA on Saturday, the Deputy Executive Secretary of ECA, Giovanie Biha, made the remarks at a two-day meeting from Oct. 26 to 27 on trade facilitation and infrastructure in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
The financial cost of meeting Africa's infrastructure needs is quite huge, Biha said.
Recalling the estimation by the African Development Bank (AfDB), she noted that Africa needs about 93 billion U.S. dollars annually until the year 2020 to close its infrastructure gap.
She said regional approaches and strategic partnerships to address problems of trade facilitation are increasingly being recognized since international trade involves the use of infrastructure and services of at least two countries.
"A regional approach is an efficient means of coordinating actions, setting priorities, reviewing progress, mobilizing resources, allocating funds, and monitoring contribution levels, with regard to solving common problems," said Biha.
"Africa must look inwards in financing its infrastructure development and dismantling obstacles to intra-Africa trade and the movement of persons across the continent," she said.
Biha noted the strides that the regional economic communities (RECs) are making in easing border pressures and promoting intra-Africa trade, and she cited the Chirundu One-Stop Border Post between Zambia and Zimbabwe as an excellent example of what the region can achieve with strong political will.
In collaboration with other development partners, ECA offers to deepen its collaboration with African countries and it stands ready to provide technical and advisory support to help tackle the trade facilitation challenges faced by the region, she said.