Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) 1-4 February 2009 - the assembled heads of state of the African Union and other international dignitaries heard keynote speeches and participated in debates around the main theme of /infrastructure development in Africa, with emphasis on transport, energy and investment.
Keynote speech by EU commissioner Tajani Commissioner Tajani made the following points:
- The transport sector is a driving force for Africa's integration and sustainable development
- EU/AU cooperation should focus on development of the road sector, creating trans-African transport networks along the lines of the EU's trans-European networks
- A system of coordinators (similar to the EU model), could help ensure coordinated development of the nine trans-African transport corridors
- The EU and AU could work together to create maritime highways between Africa and Europe.
Other high-level speakers included AU Commissioner for infrastructure and energy Ibrahim, Senegalese President Wade, World Bank vice-president Ezekwesili, and African Development Bank president Kaberuka.
Main messages from the debate:
- There has been little progress on the nine trans-African transport corridors identified by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) - missing links along these corridors must be completed rapidly.
- The real problem is not the absence of funds but the lack of adequate coordination on the African side, in particular between the AU Commission, the African Development Bank and NEPAD.
- Infrastructure development in Africa must be 'market-driven'. The development of the ICT sector in Africa should serve as an example for the transport sector
- The current economic crisis will have an important impact on infrastructure programmes in Africa ? a search for more creative financing systems would be desirable.
- In the context of the financial crisis, it is important for the AU's partners to honour their commitments.
- Efforts must be made to correct the inefficiency of current structures, e.g. the lack of maintenance, management structure, cost-benefit analysis.
- Priority should be given to the following projects:
- missing links in African transport corridors
- regional and continental hydroelectric power projects
- stimulating private investment
- promoting innovative financing mechanisms.
Support for implementation mentioned in the summit declaration:
- The main vehicle will be the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). The AU's international partners are urged to lend support to its implementation.
- Infrastructure and energy partnerships of the Africa-EU Joint Strategy also have a role to play
Infrastructure day - 28 January 2009 During this well-attended day, organised by the AU Commission, EU Commission representatives:
- presented the infrastructure and energy partnerships of the Joint Strategy as well as the Trust Fund and other financial instruments
- provided more in-depth information on current and future cooperation in the field of infrastructure, including a presentation on Trans-European Networks (TEN)
- Speech by Dr. Elham M.A. Ibrahim, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, at the opening of the Infrastructure Day, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 28 January 2009:
- Speech delivered by European Commission Vice-President Tajani at the AU Summit, 2 February 2009 [FR]