Lagos, Nigeria, 24 August 2017 (ECA) – The Economic Commission for Africa on Thursday unveiled the Model Law that provides a framework for the harmonization of cross-border rules, regulations, laws and policies governing transboundary infrastructure projects in Africa.
The Model Law, unveiled at the annual Nigerian Bar Association conference, is expected to be adopted by African Heads of State and Government at their January Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, paving the way for more transparency, efficiency, and accountability with regards to public and private sector engagement in transboundary infrastructure.
The proposed law provides a means of mitigating and managing perceived risks associated transboundary infrastructure development and bridges the gap between social and private benefits of such huge investments.
Speaking during a panel session to discuss transboundary infrastructure projects and regional integration in Africa, Adeyinka Adeyemi, Senior Advisor and Head of the Regional Integration and Infrastructure Cluster in the ECA’s Capacity Development Division, said there were many challenges facing investment in transboundary infrastructure in Africa.
The main challenges that have emerged from experts and potential investors were the plethora of policies, laws and regulations which inhibit private sector investment and curb its enthusiasm.
“Now we have developed the continent-wide model law to enhance investment in transboundary infrastructure at the request of African leaders and we hope this will go a long way in dealing with the specific risks that were hindering investment in transboundary infrastructure in Africa,” said Mr. Adeyemi.
He said the ECA had conducted a comprehensive study of risks that pertain to investment in transboundary infrastructure in Africa, adding the Model Law will protect the rights of investors.
“There is high level political support and enthusiasm for transboundary infrastructure in Africa,” said Mr. Adeyemi, adding there was now greater understanding of the risks and how to mitigate them.
In his presentation titled “Taking advantage of opportunities for investment in transboundary infrastructure in Africa”, he said the model law addresses concerns of foreign investors and would be domesticated by African nations once adopted by its leaders in January.
The law will also facilitate private sector investment and financing in transboundary infrastructure projects; harmonise cross-border regulation of such projects; and promote intra-African trade and open domestic markets to international trade.
Following the Dakar Summit on Infrastructure Financing in Africa where 16 infrastructure projects for the continent’s integration were endorsed, the private sector has been reluctant to invest, citing a number of problems they said made it difficult for them to put money into transboundary infrastructure development.
African leaders in 2016 then tasked the ECA and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) to develop a framework that would harmonize laws across the continent to make it easier for the private sector to invest in transboundary infrastructure.
Mr. Adeyemi is confident the Model Law addresses the concerns of the private sector. Now, he says, is the time for private sector to put aside their fears and invest in transboundary infrastructure projects in Africa.
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