EAC, European bank discuss infrastructure funding
As a way of unravelling infrastructural challenges that have remained a major obstacle to the integration process, the EAC Secretariat has turned to Europe seeking funding for regional infrastructural projects.
The EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera, Monday held talks with top officials of the European Investment Bank (EIB), in Luxembourg City, with financing regional infrastructural projects top on the agenda.
The EIB operates under the auspices of the European Union, which brings together all the 27 EU member states.
The bank’s delegation that met with Sezibera was headed by Yves de Rosée, Head of the EU Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund Secretariat.
Regional projects that need funding are the Kenya-South Sudan road link, Lake Victoria safety and navigation project, energy interconnectors for the regional power pool, and Burundi control tower and other projects are estimated to cost $175 million.
Sezibera highlighted the slowdown of economic integration process caused by lack of well developed infrastructures in member states.
He cited the significance of building the energy interconnectors project for operationalising the regional power pool. This project is estimated to cost 70 million euros.
Improvements to the Burundian control tower will contribute to making air travel in the country safer, while also aiding the region’s drive towards a liberalized airspace.
This project will cost approximately 20 million euros, while the Kenya-South Sudan road link and the Lake Victoria Safety and Navigation project aimed at improving navigability of Lake Victoria will cost $60 million and $25 million euros respectively.
“Cross-border infrastructure is one of the biggest Non Tariff Barriers dogging regional trade,” Sezibera remarked, adding that the EAC was working with other regional blocs to address this issue collectively.
Sezibera, who is also chair of the Inter Regional Coordination Committee (IRCC) that brings together regional economic communities such as IGAD and COMESA, said these blocs were looking at alternative ways to fund infrastructure beyond public investment, hence reaching out to the European Bank.
COMESA is the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa while IGAD is the Intra-Governmental Authority on Development.
Flavia Palanza, an official with EIB, welcomed the discussions and was positive about the prospect of the bank partnering with the EAC and the other blocs in the IRCC to finance selected project feasibility studies and actual implementation.
“Your presentation was music to our ears,” Palanza is quoted as having told Sezibera, noting that the interests of the EAC/IRCC were covered in the framework of the Cotonou Agreement which in part guides the EIB’s funding operations.
The Cotonou Agreement is the partnership agreement between developing countries and the European Union.
Further affirming the Bank’s commitment to the region, Palanza announced that the EIB was working out modalities of extending a line of credit to the East African Development Bank.
Economic Experts have always cited poor infrastructure as the leading factor obstructing EAC citizenry from exploiting benefits of regional integration.
Prof. Paul Collier, an economist from Oxford University, recently advised the bloc that in order to economically develop, there was need to push for political commitment and other stakeholders to have adequate infrastructure such as roads, ports and railways to facilitate the business community.
“EAC has got a modern economy, therefore, you need a big market within the region; and for the market to grow, you will need good transport infrastructures, like railways, ports and others.”
By Eric Kabeera, The New Times
Do you have a story or an article to publish? Please email us to firstname.lastname@example.org.