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Africa vows to boost infrastructure sector: AU official

Friday, July 13, 2012

By Apollinaire Niyirora

ADDIS ABABA, July 13 (Xinhua) — The African continent is convinced that no economic development will be possible without developing the infrastructure sector on the continent, the African Union (AU) commissioner for infrastructure and energy said here at a press conference ahead of the 19th AU summit.

“Without developed infrastructure, we (Africa) can’t achieve development. The African integration is therefore impossible without the development of infrastructure,” said Elham Ibrahim, AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy.

Ibrahim said that Africa has elaborated the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) focusing on four main sectors including transport, energy, trans-boundary water and information and communication technologies.

Ibrahim said: “This program was adopted by the previous AU Heads of State Summit held in January this year which will cover short-term and long-term activities that will run on the African continent up to 2040.”

According to the AU official, the continental program has 51 projects including 24 in the transport sector, 15 in the energy sector, nine in the trans-boundary water sector and three in the information and communication sector.

She said the overall program will cost 360 billion U.S. dollars.

Ibrahim indicated that the first phase will run up to 2020 and added that the second phase will run up to 2030.

For its part, the long term will run from 2030 up to 2040, she said.

To implement the project, she said, the funding will come from AU member states themselves with the support of donor countries and international organizations.

“We (Africa) have a lot of resources. The needed cost for the program only accounts for about one percent of the African GDP,” said AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Elham Ibrahim.

In the transport sector, some of the projects she mentioned include the development of the Cairo (Egypt) – Cape Town (South Africa) and the Dakar (Senegal) – Djibouti corridors.

She said that feasibility studies have already been made and confirmed that the African Development Bank has accepted to fund the implementation of some of those projects.

In the energy sector, Elham Ibrahim said that the continent is developing the Africa Hydropower 2020 Initiative with the objective to develop the “huge” potential of major river basins of Africa like interconnection projects on several dams notably on the Grand Inga III in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“We will need a lot of funds, but we will also need highly qualified personnel to implement all those projects,” said the AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy.

Still in the energy sector, Ibrahim indicated that the Program will explore geothermal resources mainly located in East Africa and whose estimated capacity is 15,000 MW.

She added that the German government and the European Union (EU) have accepted to support the geothermal project with 50 million euros.

Regarding solar energy, the AU official told reporters that an evaluation study has already been made in the Sahara desert and added that the second phase is targeting the Kalahari Desert.

“We (Africa) have an excess of solar energy that we can even export to our neighboring continents like Europe,” said Ibrahim.

In the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, the senior AU official said that the Indian initiative has created tele-medicine, tele-education networks between India and the Africa continent.

“Intra-Africa communication is now possible and thousands of African graduates were trained or received medical care thanks to tele-medicine and tele-education networks,” said Elham Ibrahim, AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy.