Nairobi, 1 March 2022 (ECA): The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) today convened a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya and on the sidelines of the 7th PIDA Week, to discuss on how to address the financing needs of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor programme.
Held under the theme “The investment potentials of the LAPSSET Land Bridge to Central Africa and beyond”, the session, moderated by Mr. Adeyinka Adeyemi, Senior Advisor at the United Nations of Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), focused on how to strengthen partnership, promote cooperation and coordination amongst the three countries on the LAPSSET project.
Speaking on the issue of how to crowd-in investment for LAPSSET, Mr. Silvester Kasuku, CEO of the African Center for Transport, Infrastructure and Regional Integration (ACTIRI) and former CEO of LAPSSET Authority, said that Africa needs to translate its population to be a business population that can support growth in Africa.
“The private sector is a key partner to governments and RECs in the successful implementation of the LAPSSET,” Mr. Kasuku stated.
The Director of the Transportation and Infrastructure Department at the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr. Emmanuel Onwodi, informed the meeting that Developing Economies may not be able to provide the required funding for this project.
“It is, therefore, necessary to explore alternative means of funding, including Public Private Partnerships (PPP), Loans/Grants from development finance institutions and Tax Credits to corporate institutions,” Mr. Onwodi affirmed.
On his part Amb. Francis Kirimi Muthaura, Chair of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), echoed the same sentiments and stated that there is no alternative but to realize LAPSSET’s transformative potential. He noted that expediting approvals of mega projects would show that the region is serious about fixing its infrastructure projects thereby attracting a big number of investors.
“PPP is crucial to enable the private sector to participate in this ambitious programme,” Amb. Mathaura reiterated. And he added that tapping Private Sector investments have the potential of timely fastracking delivery of projects.
On his part, Mr. Robert Lisinge, Chief of the Energy, Infrastructure and Services Section of the Private Sector Development and Finance Division of ECA underscored that working together is the key strategy for the success of Africa’s regional infrastructure programmes.
“However, collaboration has had limited success so far, as shown by the slow pace of implementation of transborder infrastructure programmes,” Mr. Lisinge noted.
As an example, he highlighted the Trans-African Highways (TAH) network, which was conceived in the early 1970s to link different countries on the continent, but is still incomplete, with missing links constituting more than 20% of the network.
Mr. Lisinge listed some of the challenges in undertaking Africa’s regional infrastructure and highlighted some of the solution including ensuring awareness of stakeholders, building political consensus and getting high-level buy-in to move projects forward; building trust; and taking regional perspectives into consideration when developing national policy.
“This, in turn, could contribute to efforts to reap the full benefits of regional development initiatives, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” Mr. Lisinge affirmed.
The LAPSSET Corridor Program is a regional flagship project intended to provide transport and logistics infrastructure aimed at creating seamless connectivity between the Eastern African Countries of Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan. The project connects a population of 160 million people in the three countries. Additionally, the LAPSSET Corridor is part of the larger land bridge that will connect the East African coast from Lamu Port to the West coast of Africa at Douala Port.
The panelists at the meeting discussed these issues with vigour and agreed that the LAPSSET project offered prospects of betterment for the people of the region and highlighted some of the project’s expected outcomes including seamless connectivity, new jobs and a transformative infrastructure. They also called on the three countries to have
Integration of policies, Regulations and legal frameworks for the successful implementation of LAPSSET.
Earlier, the meeting heard from Mr. Stephen Ikua, Director General/CEO of LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority of the Republic of Kenya, Mr. Hibamo Ayalew, speaking on behalf of H.E. Amb. Meles Alem Tikea, Ambassador of the Republic of Ethiopia to the Republic of Kenya and Eng. Lado Tombe Pitiya, Directorate of Road Transport and Safety of the Republic of South Sudan who all committed their countries to prioritize the development of LAPSSET corridor project, which seeks regional economic integration in trade, investment and infrastructure. They stated that various components of the project have been completed and reiterated their commitment to see this project come to fruition.
The Session, held on the sidelines of the 7th PIDA Week, was attended by close to 250 participants including 60 online participants. The 7th PIDA Week, which will be held from 28 February to 4 March 2022 brought together international and regional experts to deliberate on the issues surrounding infrastructure delivery in Africa. The continental week will focus on how Africa can lead the way in the delivery of infrastructure in a post-COVID era, supporting the economic and social imperatives of the continent in the digital age.
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