By HENRY OWINO

African Heads of State met to review advancement of major roads connecting countries in Africa for purposes of the continent’s development.

The recommitment to develop Africa’s infrastructure was made by Heads of State at a side-event during the African Union Summit for the initiative on championing infrastructure.

The African Union Summit held in February 2020, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia brought together 15 Heads of States among other Government officials.

The President of Rwanda His Excellency Paul Kagame and the President of South Africa, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa and Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat were among the delegates.

The initiative known as ‘The Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative (PICI)’ was born out of a proposal by South Africa to accelerate regional infrastructure development enabled through the political championing of projects.

 It is currently being coordinated by the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD).

“Africa is back on track to return to a surge in economic growth, recorded in the earlier part of the millennium, as the continent moves with a renewed sense of urgency, speed and commitment to ensure inclusive growth,” said President Ramaphosa of South Africa.

President Ramaphosa went on to state that the risk in investing in Africa’s infrastructure is mostly over exaggerated. “Our continent is on the rise!” the President said.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat emphasised that infrastructure projects on the continent need to concretely deliver on improving livelihoods, especially in creating jobs for unemployed youth.

The role of the champions at Head of State level is to bring visibility, unblock bottlenecks, mobilize resources and ensure project implementation. The PICI presents an opportunity for African Heads of State and Government to be actively involved in the development and implementation of projects.

 Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of AUDA-NEPAD in his opening remarks stated: “I would like to commend the completion of the ICT Broadband and Optic Fibre Project for all the EAC countries, championed by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

The finalisation of the VICMED Feasibility Study – Phase 1, Championed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt; The construction of first berth of Lamu Port and Isiolo – Moyale (505Km), championed by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.

The great progress made on the North-South Corridor championed by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa; the Kinshasa-Brazzaville Bridge Road/Rail Project championed by President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo; and the International Logistics Hub championed by President Hage Geingob of Namibia.”

The high-level representation and commitment as reflected in the examples cited above demonstrates the ability of the PICI champions to bring visibility and unblock the pathway to accelerate the implementation of these important projects.

They also show that the initiative puts Africa on the right track towards unlocking its potential.

Over the period from 2011 to 2019, the membership of the PICI increased by 50% from 8 to 12 members, reflecting the unequivocal commitment of political leaders to upscale infrastructure across the African continent.

Along with South Africa as chair, the PICI comprises Algeria, Benin, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Namibia, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal. Furthermore, in 2019, the PICI members accepted and endorsed the membership of Sudan.

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