The NEPAD chief said Africa was the least integrated continent in the world.
The Chief Executive Officer of the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), Ibrahim Mayaki, has said that the ongoing 4,500-km Algiers-Lagos Trans-Saharan Highway construction would ease transportation.
The trans-Saharan Highway will also reduce transport costs between the two countries and boost intra-African trade.
He also added that the North-South transport corridor covering 2,800 km of road and rail networks between South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi would reduce transportation cost as well and boost intra-African trade.
Mr. Mayaki spoke at a joint news conference with the UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa, Maged Abdelaziz.
He said that the critical need to enhance Africa’s cross-border trade and sustainable development informed the decision to promote the programme for infrastructure development in Africa.
The NEPAD chief added that the programme, developed by the AU Commission, NEPAD, and the African Development Bank, was designed to transform Africa and bridge its massive infrastructure gap.
“At the moment, Africa is the least integrated continent in the world, with low levels of intra-regional economic exchange and the smallest share of global trade,” he said.
According to him, infrastructure inefficiencies is costing the continent billions of dollars annually and stunting growth.
He said that the 51 Programme projects would lead to a robust regional system, fueling international trade, job creation and sustainable economic growth.
Mr. Mayaki also explained that those projects would be spread across the four infrastructure sectors, namely energy, transport, trans-boundary water, information and communication technology.
“Through those projects, Africa’s global competitiveness would improve, thereby boosting socio-economic growth and development on the continent,’’ he stressed.
He said that NEPAD was also harnessing support in the agricultural sector, stressing that under the African Bioscience Initiative, biodiversity, biotechnology, indigenous knowledge systems and technology were been engaged to address challenges.
On the partnership between NEPAD and the Departments of Political Affairs and Public Information, Mr. Abdelaziz highlighted the work of the departments in coordinating and integrating activities to promote African issues and development.
Responding to reporters’ questions on NEPAD activities, Mr. Mayaki emphasised the importance of putting NEPAD on the international agenda as Africa’s own development agency.
He also stressed the need to mobilise resources to support the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa and called for greater efforts to address the “massive” poverty in Africa.
Answering a reporter’s question on development, peace, and security in Africa, both Messrs Mayaki and Abdelaziz spoke of the need for a durable peace that would enable Africans to benefit from the lofty objectives of NEPAD and the mechanism, as well as the many other efforts and agenda being implemented.
Mr. Abdelaziz also added that the Secretary-General, during his recent visit with the World Bank Group President to Africa’s Great Lakes region, had reiterated the need to achieve peace and security in order for growth and development to thrive.
The Office of the Special Adviser on Africa and the African Peer Review Mechanism had been established a decade ago and had, over that time, worked closely together towards fulfilling their mandates.
The Mechanism was a collective pledge by African leaders to address the challenges of bad governance, persistent poverty and underdevelopment.
It was the governance flagship of the AU, designed to promote the adoption of policies, standards and practices that would lead to political stability.
Over the last 10 years, the Mechanism had achieved increased citizen participation in political and economic management, among others, she added.
Pointing out that engagement was on a voluntary basis, she said that, currently, 33 member States of the AU had acceded to the Mechanism, while 17 countries had completed the first review process.
Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda are among those that completed the first cycle of implementation and were now preparing for a second review.
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