Infrastructure development mainstay for African continental free trade area: UN expert

Source: Xinhua| 2021-01-18 22:01:24|Editor: huaxia

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- As the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement set to solve Africa's investment hurdles, there is an urgent need to address the continent's infrastructure shortcomings, a senior official of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) said on Monday.

The statement was made by Stephen Karingi, regional integration and trade division director at the UNECA, ahead of the sixth session of the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week, which kicked off virtually on Monday to review progress, share experiences and build consensus on key infrastructure projects that will take Africa to the next level of development.

"New decade, new realities, new priorities -- positioning PIDA and infrastructure development in Africa's continued growth and economic recovery," Karingi.

The UNECA Director further emphasized that "with the AfCFTA set to address Africa's investment challenges, there was an urgent need to address the continent's infrastructure deficit."

"PIDA Week allows us to take stock with all the other stakeholders; review and reflect on progress made in the implementation of the programme; discuss ways to overcome challenges and think outside the box to find possible solutions; share lessons learnt, identify and agree on ways to improve implementation, especially now that the AfCFTA is here," he said.

According to the UNECA, the just-started 6th PIDA Week will provide a platform to advocate and market PIDA priority projects and facilitate sharing lessons and experiences on the implementation of key projects. Africa's infrastructure priorities for 2021-2030 will be set during the week.

As a continental initiative, PIDA provides a common framework for African stakeholders to build the infrastructure necessary to integrate the continent physically, economically and socially, offering opportunities to boost intra-African trade, create new jobs for Africa's growing population and improve overall socio-economic development on the continent, and provide requisite infrastructure and environment to facilitate the implementation of the game-changing AfCFTA, it was noted.

The PIDA is the African Union's strategic framework for regional and continental infrastructure development.

While progress is being recorded in PIDA implementation, challenges such as lack of finance, lack of capacity for project preparation, limited involvement of the private sector in infrastructure projects, and the need to address governance issues and create an enabling legal, policy and regulatory environment, amongst others, are often said affect the pace of implementation.

The continental PIDA Week was inaugurated in 2015 as a forum to bring together key stakeholders in the implementation of the PIDA program. Enditem