AFRICANGLOBE – Southern Africa is seeking investment and finance for a $64 billion programme to improve transport, energy and other infrastructure over the next five years.
The plan for 106 cross-border infrastructure projects covering the priority sectors of energy, transport, tourism, water, information communication technology and meteorology was presented to an Infrastructure Investment Conference hosted by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the Mozambican capital Maputo in late June.
Projects cover the development of transboundary infrastructure including alternative energy sources, information communication technology and civil aviation, and are expected to be implemented by 2017.
The transport sector had the largest number of projects showcased during the one-day investment conference, with 40 projects for improvement of road, railways, ports and border posts, valued at about US$16.3 billion, presented to potential investors.
Priority transport infrastructure projects include those targeting the expansion, rehabilitation and modernisation of Durban and Walvis Bay ports; new rail projects and rehabilitation of existing ones; new road links connecting Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo and rehabilitation of others around the region; and introduction of one-stop border posts at Beitbridge between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Soft infrastructure projects under the transport sector include plans to introduce a uniform road user charging system for all countries in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and SADC as well as the establishment of a regional transport competition authority for the three regional economic communities.
It was noted that while the development of physical infrastructure was essential, effective access to infrastructure services required regulatory reform and regional harmonisation of regulations.
COMESA-EAC-SADC are implementing regional integration programmes in trade and economic development that include regional infrastructure development programmes in transport, information communications technology, energy and civil aviation as a first step towards the realisation of continental integration.
A total of 16 energy projects estimated to cost more than US$12 billion were marketed at the conference, including the flagship ZiZaBoNa Interconnector Project to be implemented by Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia as well as the proposed Namibia-Angola Interconnector that will connect the latter to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).
The conference also discussed infrastructure projects for SADC island states such as Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles.
These include establishment of a maritime corridor for oceanic states as well as the development and marketing trans-national tourism products for the island states.
SADC chairperson President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique set the tone for the dialogue between SADC and potential investors by highlighting that the region is ready for partnerships to drive forward its infrastructure development agenda.
“We propose to leave here with a sustainable strategy that allows us to accelerate investment in infrastructure in the SADC region,” said Guebuza.
He said the approval of the master plan by SADC last year was recognition of the vital role played by cross-border infrastructure in the regional integration agenda.
Infrastructure development is an important pillar for regional integration, trade competitiveness and development.
“Therefore, we are pleased to see that we leave here with the feeling of being on the right track and we made advances that allow us to steadily advance the implementation of the agenda for investment in infrastructure SADC,” he said.
The conference provided constructive dialogue between SADC and its cooperation partners, investors and financiers of the regional infrastructure.
The dialogue included fruitful discussions at country round tables dedicated to infrastructure in the sectors of energy, transport, water, tourism, meteorology and information technology and communication.
Each SADC member state was allocated a table where interested financiers and cooperating partners had the opportunity to get first-hand information about projects in that country.
This provided an opportunity for representatives of development finance institutions and the private sector to interact and network with SADC member states and policy makers to discuss opportunities in infrastructure development.
A representative of Brazilian mining firm Vale, Ricardo Saad welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the SADC infrastructure programme, pointing out that cross-border infrastructure, in particular transport, energy and water, has the potential to facilitate intra-regional trade and investment as well as unlocking national and regional comparative advantages.
“There is need for concessions for private sector investment in infrastructure in the region,” he said.
As an example, he said SADC member states could consider an option where for every dollar invested by mining firms, governments invest a fraction towards infrastructure in the respective areas or districts.
The conference was held under the theme “Accelerating Infrastructure Investment Through Sustainable and Innovative Financing” and attended by more than 200 delegates, including government officials, representatives of cooperating partners, development finance institutions and investors from the region and beyond.
By: Joseph Ngwawi