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ECOWAS seeks action plan for regional infrastructure development

by Business News Report

Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) has called on member states and other stakeholders to evolve a comprehensive Action Plan to advance the development of infrastructure programmes in the region. ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure Ebrima Njie, disclosed this at the opening of a two-day Regional Experts Meeting in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire on the “Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa” (PIDA).
Njie noted that the lack of adequate infrastructure and efficient services constituted “major bottlenecks to the attainment of regional socio-economic development and integration’’. Consequently, he said the region continues to struggle under “economic backwardness’’ in spite of its rich agricultural and mineral resources endowments. He commended development partners and donors including the World Bank, EU and the African Development Bank for their
continued support to ECOWAS.
He stressed the need for “strong cooperation and coordination between all PIDA stakeholders,’’ to make the region and the continent competitive and a major players in the global market. With the strong support coming from regional Heads, State and Governments, the Commissioner also urged PIDA stakeholders to move fast on the identified priority areas especially transport, energy and ICT programmes, to avoid overlapping so that they can leverage on the economies of scale to optimise efficiency.

On his part, Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister for Economic Infrastructure Patrick Achi, who opened the conference, called for an institutional framework that would ensure prioritisation, harmonisation and coherence in the implementation of PIDA. Describing infrastructure as key to sustainable development, he said: “We have to do things differently,’’ adding that “Africa must not solely depend on donors, but “must make contributions, by bringing some seed money’’ for the effective and efficient implementation of the PIDA Priority Action Plan (PIDA-PAP).
The Minister also stressed the need for the development of human capital or capacity building, to bring relevant expertise and innovative ideas to help Africa move forward economically. Also speaking, Mr Augustin Tompieu-Zouo, Commissioner for Transport and Tourism at the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) Commission, and the representative of the AU, Dr Moctar Yedali, both underscored the importance of infrastructure to Africa’s development and pledged the commitment of their respective organisations to the implementation of PIDA-PAP. The experts meeting will be followed by that of the ECOWAS Ministers in charge of infrastructure at the same venue from Nov 9. The meeting is expected to agree on measures for the domestication of the Action Plan on the PIDA-PAP projects.
The meeting in Yamoussoukro is a follow-up to the decision of the 41st ordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, in the Ivorian capital, in June 2012, which emphasised the importance of infrastructure to the improvement
of the competitiveness of the Region.
The summit directed the ECOWAS Commission to intensify its efforts in regional infrastructure development and the mobilisation of the necessary resources towards this end. The AU Commission and the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Authority (NPCA), with support from the African Development Bank (AfDB) prepared PIDA to serve as a vision and strategic framework for the development of regional and continental infrastructure, including Energy, Transport, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Trans-boundary Water Resources), for
a period of 30 years from 2010.
PIDA is based on an assumption that with a projected annual economic growth rate of six per cent for African countries, GDP for all countries will grow six times and the average per capita income will rise above 10,000 dollars in the next 30 years with anticipated increase in the infrastructure demand in all sectors. The Programme was adopted by the 18th Summit of the AU, the 26th Summit of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee and the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU Heads of State and Government, held in Addis
Ababa, respectively on Jan. 28 and between Jan. 29 to 30, 2012. The PIDA-PAP consists of 51 priority infrastructure projects identified in the four sectors across Africa, to be implemented in the next eight years (2012 – 2020), with the programme and priority action plan expected to be implemented by the AU Commission, its Organs and the NPCA , Member States and development partners. The ECOWAS Commission has been selected as the lead Regional Economic Community to oversee and co-ordinate the implementation of about 20 out of the 51 priority projects selected under the PAP with regards to West Africa. World cassava output is also expected to increase vigorously in 2012 and may continue to do so in 2013, sustained by growth in Africa, where cassava remains a strategic crop for both food security and poverty alleviation.

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