Lusaka, Thursday, October, 31, 2019: Ministers responsible for infrastructure from the tripartite group comprising COMESA, the East Africa Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have called for the speedy implementation of regional infrastructure programmes in energy, transport and Information Communication Technology (ICTs) sectors to accelerating economic integration.
This was after reviewing the status of implementation of these key programmes during the Second Tripartite Sectoral Ministerial Committee on Infrastructure (TSMCI) in Lusaka on Thursday 31st October 2019. The meeting was a follow up to the first one held in Dar es Salaam on 26th October 2017.
During the meeting, the ministers noted the need to facilitate the development of a more competitive, integrated and liberalised regional road transport market in the Tripartite region under the supervision of the Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme (TTTFP).
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The purpose of the TTTFP is to develop and implement harmonised road transport policies, laws, regulations and standards for efficient cross border road transport and transit networks, transport and logistics services, systems and procedures in the Tripartite region. The TTTFP is an 18 million euros project funded under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
So far, two Multilateral Agreements namely the Vehicle Load Management Agreement (VLMA) and the Multilateral Cross Border Road Transport Agreement (MCBRTA) have been developed and validated to support an envisioned harmonized Legal Framework in the Tripartite region.
Sixteen Member/Partner States namely Angola, Burundi, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe participated at the meeting in Lusaka.
Zambia’s Minister of Transport and Communications Hon. Mutotwe Kafwaya officially opened the meeting with a call on the Tripartite to scale up activities in the energy as well as the ICT sectors to help foster industrial growth in the region.
“Our agenda and programmes should therefore respond to global and continental developments for us to address current and future needs,” Hon. Kafwaya stated.
In her address, COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe described the low levels of infrastructure development in the region as an impediment to the implementation of regional integration programmes.
“Africa’s poor competitiveness globally has been attributed to the quality of institutions, infrastructure, macro-economic policies, education and technological adoption,” she said. “The persistent infrastructure deficit is a major barrier to regional integration and calls for development of adequate and efficient infrastructure systems.”
On Air Transport, the Ministers urged the 27 Member/Partner States who have not yet signed the Solemn Commitment on the Establishment of Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) to do so. They noted that air transport liberalization would lead to increased air service levels and in turn stimulate economic growth.
Despite the region witnessing a rapid diffusion of ICT services subscriptions in the last two decades, the ministers observed that many challenges persist such as limited network coverage and low access to ICT services especially in rural areas.