KISUMU, Kenya, May 17 (Xinhua) -- The revamping of Africa's transport infrastructure including seaports, railways, roads and airports is urgent in order to stimulate the continent's growth through trade, investments and integration, officials said Tuesday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ninth edition of Africities summit underway in Kenya's western city of Kisumu, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, said that plugging the continent's infrastructure financing gap had been prioritized to boost cross-border trade, ease mobility of skilled workers and facilitate sustainable urbanization.
"We are currently mobilizing resources from both development partners and the private sector to help build roads, railways and ICT infrastructure," Mahamat remarked during a high-level dialogue on infrastructure and urban development while noting that the continental bloc has partnered with New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) to explore innovative financing toward implementation of modern infrastructure projects.
According to Mahamat, the benefits of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will trickle down to ordinary citizens once countries prioritize investments in new roads, fiber optic cables, ports and modern railways.
Danny Faure, former president of Seychelles, said that by revamping its infrastructure, Africa stood to gain from the growth of indigenous manufacturing, value addition and export competitiveness.
Faure noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis that had taken a heavier toll on the continent should serve as a wake-up call for governments to invest in resilient physical infrastructure and supply chains. He called upon countries to leverage domestic resource mobilization in their quest to modernize their infrastructure, boost connectivity and stimulate the growth of local startups.
Raila Odinga, the African Union high representative for infrastructure development and former Kenyan prime minister between 2008 to 2013, said that speedy implementation of the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) will hasten the realization of the continent's transformation agenda.
Odinga urged African governments to leverage insurance and pension funds alongside public-private partnerships in order to bridge a huge infrastructure financing gap. He stressed that policy harmonization, addressing capacity gaps coupled with sharing of best practices was key to promoting infrastructure modernization in Africa.
Kenya is hosting the ninth edition of the Africities summit, the first to be held in an intermediary city under the theme of "The Role of intermediary cities of Africa in the implementation of Agenda 2030 of the United Nations and the African Union Agenda 2063."
High-level delegates attending the five-day forum include former heads of state and government, ministers, city mayors, industry leaders, researchers and innovators.