African Development Bank. The 6th Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) Annual Meeting closed on Friday 7 May 2010 in Tunis. The meeting was co-chaired by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Vice-president, Bobby J. Pittman and the Canadian international Development Agency (CIDA) Executive Vice President, David Moloney.
Discussions focused on the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, PIDA, which is African-owned and fully supported at national and regional levels and by African institutions. All participants, both African institutions and Africa’s international partners, agreed that PIDA provides an important framework and long-term plan for the delivery of improvements in trans-boundary infrastructure, while establishing a “roadmap” for Africa’s infrastructure development.
The meeting also discussed the detailed regional analysis carried out by the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic and considered the benefits that could be achieved through prioritizing regional infrastructure development, compared to adopting a country-by-country approach. In that regard, participants agreed that while regional integration brings a wide range of benefits, it needs to build up from a foundation of functional national networks.
Overall, discussions were positive and strategic results were achieved after more than a two-day long session. Participants reaffirmed their commitment to work together to expand regional infrastructure in line with the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). They also stressed that massive investments in trans boundary infrastructure are needed if Africa would realize its economic potential. Members also heard that total external financial commitments to African infrastructure projects rose to nearly $40 billion in 2009, despite the impact of the global economic downturn, with investment by ICA members alone going up by 45%, from $13.7 billion in 2008 to $19.5 billion in 2009.
Commenting on the relevance of the meeting, ICA Coordinator, Alex Rugamba, underscored that “this year’s meeting reinforced the value of the consortium as a platform for sharing knowledge, experience and information on infrastructure development in Africa,” adding that “the meeting also was able to bring together a wide range of key players, including China, Korea, members of the Arab Fund Coordination Group and private sector representatives”.
The meeting also brought together senior representatives of G8 governments, multilateral agencies such as the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, and by African institutions such as the African Union Commission, NEPAD, the Regional Economic Communities and regional development banks.
Participants at the meeting agreed that accelerating the delivery of regional infrastructure would require innovative financial instruments, increased harmonization and coordination among all players, including national governments, and a fair sharing of the costs and benefits of transboundary projects among the participating countries. ICA members also recognized the importance of coordination and the contribution of all partners and financiers, including the private sector, in helping to bridge the funding gap for regional infrastructure and welcomed broader engagement in the ICA.
Concluding the session, co-chair, David Moloney, stressed that: “Regional integration is essential to Africa’s socioeconomic development. The increased focus we are seeing on major transboundary corridor projects is an encouraging development. The full implementation of these initiatives will depend on the commitment and collaboration of all parties involved. ”
For his part, AfDB Vice-president Bobby J. Pittman and co-chair, explained that the increase in the level of ICA members’ financial support for infrastructure development in Africa in 2009 was a significant achievement. “Africa has demonstrated, through the global economic crisis, that investing in infrastructure is a much lower risk than initially perceived,” he added.
The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) was launched at the G8 Gleneagles Summit in 2005. Its role is to help improve the lives and economic well-being of Africa’s people through encouraging, supporting and promoting increased investment in infrastructure in Africa, from both public and private sources. The ICA acts as a catalyst – enhancing, accelerating and precipitating the development of Africa’s infrastructure. The European Commission is member of this initiative which is obviously relevant to the implementation of the Africa-EU Infrastructure Partnership.