Infrastructure experts from COMESA Member States have concluded a three days meeting in Zambia to review the status of domestication and implementation of programmes in transport and communications, energy and information technology in the region.
Among the key projects in focus in the three sectors were; the establishment of a navigational route between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea known as VICMED, the regional power interconnectors and the proposed establishment of a cybercrime capacity building centre.
This is the 10th meeting of the COMESA committee of infrastructure experts representing the 19 Member States. The technical experts meeting, which began on Saturday ended today, giving way to the 37th meeting of ministers in charge of infrastructure.
During the technical session, progress report on the implementation of Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya (ZTK) Power Interconnector was presented. The project is under implementation and seeks to interconnect the three countries and create a link between the Southern African Power Pool and the East African Power Pool. This will make it possible for transmission of power from Cape to Cairo.
According to a market study conducted on the project in December 2016, the link will make it possible to transfer as much as 600MW from Ethiopia, through Kenya to Tanzania and Zambia in the short-term and vice versa in the long-term.
Several sections of the power infrastructure have been completed with others at various stages of implementation. In November 2017, a financier’s conference raise funds for the remaining sections will be held in Lusaka, Zambia.
In addition to the ZTK, other major interconnectors in COMESA region which are at various stages of development, include the Ethiopia-Kenya; Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia, Egypt-Sudan, and the ZIZABONA (Zimbabwe-Zambia-Botswana-Namibia) Interconnectors.
Under the transport infrastructure, the VICMED seeks to establish a development corridor anchored on the navigational route between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea. It involves 10 COMESA Member States namely; Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
Foot Print States
The project is supported by the African Development Bank through Egypt as the champion. Apart from supporting the Pre-feasibility study completed in May 2015, the AfDB provided further funding amounting to $650 000 through a loan agreement with Egypt for capacity building for the footprint States.
The full feasibility study requires about $17million to cater for the main Nile ($10million), Akagera River ($2million) and technical designs ($5million). COMESA Secretariat was tasked with playing a leading role in mobilizing resources for this purpose.
On ICT, the Committee discussed the proposal by Mauritius for the establishment of Cybercrime capacity building centre in the country. The centre is expected to fast track the development of cybercrime policies within member countries.
Noting that the estimated financing requirement to close Africa’s infrastructure deficit amounts to USD 93 billion annually until 2020, Assistant Secretary General of COMESA, Dr Kipyego Cheluget said the implementation of Africa’s Vision of an integrated continent free of poverty is inextricably linked to the existence of infrastructure.
“The emphasis at regional and continental levels is on innovation and creativity, thinking outside the box to come up with feasible instruments to speed up the development of physical infrastructure,” he said noting that the COMESA EAC-SADC tripartite region requires US$50 billion.
Given that scaling up financing from traditional sources alone would not be adequate to close the infrastructure gap, COMESA is exploring opportunities for tapping into private financing, creating new partnerships and reducing wastage in such investments.
In his statement, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communication, Zambia, Eng. Misheck Lungu supported this approach stating that the public sector, on its own may not be able to bridge the funding gap for infrastructure investment.
“There is need to engage the private sector through public-private-partnerships (PPPs) through development of effective institutional and financial mechanisms to attract private sector participation in infrastructure development,” he said. “Member States with the assistance of COMESA Secretariat should prepare bankable projects, enact enabling laws and regulations, and establish appropriate loan guarantee systems.”
The European Union has been the largest contributor to infrastructure programs in the COMESA region. Under its 11th European Development Fund, the EU has allocated €600 Million out of which €525 million will finance hard (physical) infrastructure and €75 to soft infrastructure.
The recommendations of the experts will be tabled before the Ministers of infrastructure, Tuesday, 3 October 2017 for decision making.