COMESA to hold infrastructure summit
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is planning to hold an infrastructure summit where ministers and donor organisations will meet to raise funds to expedite development projects.
The conference, with the theme ‘Innovative means of Infrastructure Financing’, will be held on September 14 at the Imperial Royale hotel in Kampala, Uganda. The primary objectives of the summit are to present the COMESA Priority programmes and projects in the infrastructure sector, mobilise financial resources from the public and private; and to encourage and facilitate private investment through, amongst others, joint ventures. The sectors in focus will be transport (railways, roads and maritime transport services) and energy (power generation, grid interconnection and oil and gas). Each sub-sector will have a break out session where states will be provided with opportunities to present economically feasible projects.
Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, the current COMESA chair at the 16th heads of state and Government summit, noted that there exists a wide chasm between African economies.
He added that there is an urgent need to work on infrastructure development with railway links to Southern Sudan, DR Congo and Rwanda, as well as Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.
Amelia Kyambadde, the trade minister and COMESA council of ministers chair said that the high level conference is expected to attract ministers of infrastructure, finance, energy, trade and information technology from COMESA member states.
The conference is expected to provide a common platform for key stakeholders – financial institutions, development and cooperating partners, high ranking representatives of Ministries, potential business counterparts from the region and other countries – to network and create sustainable relationships.
There are projects worth a combined $60.7b (sh158trillion) which are either ready for implementation or in the pipeline in the 19 COMESA countries – Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, DR Congo, Burundi, Comoros, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Djibouti, Madagascar, Mauritius, Malawi, Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Seychelles and Swaziland.
Of this, $22.8b (sh59trillion) has been earmarked for rehabilitation and upgrades of the Djibouti-Lamu-Nacala railway and the Mombasa-Kampala-Kigali railway while pipeline and ongoing power generation projects in the region are estimated at $37b as demand grows. Also, projects worth $635m (sh1.7trillion) have been earmarked with respect to improving universal access to ICT, interconnection, spectrum management and monitoring.
Kyambadde noted that when complete, these projects will lead to an overall reduction in the cost of doing business, deepen regional integration and improve intra-regional trade. Funding for the infrastructure budget may be expected from representatives from the PTA bank, BADEA, the East African development bank (EADB) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), who have confirmed their participation in the summit.
The COMESA region has a population of over 400 million people and a combined GDP of $799 billion in 2010, making it one of the biggest African trading blocs.
Intra-COMESA trade had increased to $18.4 billion by 2011, a recovery from 2009 when trade stood at a lowly $12.7 billion due to the global economic recession.
Image:President of Malawi Joyce Banda hands over the COMESA chair to President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni, Source:New Vision
Source: New Vision (a Uganda daily), COMESA official website