Infrastructure investment spending has quadrupled, exports have increased and Africa is receiving a growing share of foreign direct investment, according to President Jacob Zuma.”It is not surprising therefore that infrastructure development took centre stage at the World Economic Forum on Africa meeting in Cape Town on 3 to 5 June,” he said.”These positive trends come on the back of improved governance and a much sounder approach to macroeconomic management in our continent. We need to sustain these trends and deepen them,” Zuma said yesterday during the President’s Co-ordinating Council (PCC) meeting at Tuynhuys in Cape Town.At the meeting were premiers and local government representatives; it was held to discuss governance and how to improve the performance of government at all three levels.Infrastructure development work in all provinces and municipal metros is co- ordinated through the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC), led by the president. The president also chairs the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative (PICI), a programme of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. It reports to the agency’s Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee.
The PICI aims to facilitate continuous dialogue and work to boost infrastructure development. South Africa was given the task of co-ordinating the North-South Corridor, focusing on road and rail. The initiative links heads of state and government to specific infrastructure corridors to ensure strategic political leadership in the championing of cross-border infrastructure projects.It is primarily tasked with bringing visibility to the infrastructure projects, facilitating the unblocking of bottlenecks and any political impasse, providing leadership in resource mobilisation and subsequently ensuring speedy implementation.”Infrastructure development is one of our key job drivers together with tourism, manufacturing, mining and beneficiation, the green and blue economies and agriculture,” Zuma said.”We are refurbishing and building new schools, clinics and hospitals; we are building three universities and 12 training and vocational education colleges; and we are constructing and improving rail, roads, ports, broadband, roads, dams and power stations.”What we are doing in the country dovetails with the continental infrastructure programme.”
Catalyst for economic development
Regional integration is the key and infrastructure development is a catalyst for economic development on the continent. Many of the regional economic communities have developed regional infrastructure plans to facilitate regional trade and investments. However, it is also important to invest in national infrastructure, in addition to regional infrastructure.These are projects that should ultimately unlock the economic potential of the continent and provide development opportunities for communities, cities and regions.The North-South Corridor championed by South Africa is a multimodal and multidimensional infrastructure corridor that includes road, rail, border posts, bridges, ports, energy and other related infrastructure. It passes through 12 countries – Tanzania, Congo, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.These projects form the nucleus of the implementation of the broader Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (Pida). Pida is a multi-sector programme covering transport, energy, transboundary water and telecommunications and ICT. It is dedicated to facilitating continental integration in Africa through improved regional infrastructure and is designed to support implementation of the African Union Abuja Treaty and the creation of the African economic Community.Pida is a joint initiative of the African Union Commission, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Co-ordination Agency and the African Development Bank.Progress has been made by the championing countries to bring these projects to a reality, which will be discussed at the 33rd Nepad Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee meeting tomorrow.
Follow Alive2Green on Social Media
South African Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has urged other African countries to join the eleven (including South Africa) that, in January, decided to liberalise air transport between them and create a single air transport market by 2017. She did so in a speech officially opening the recent Aviation Stakeholders Convention, which was delivered on her behalf by Department of Transport director-general Pule Godfrey Selepe. “This [agreement] is a massive achievement for the aviation industry on the continent as a whole,” he read. “Africa is big enough for all member States benefiting from joining these eleven countries.”
Peters expressed an understanding for those countries that wished to protect their national airlines, but pointed out that this was damaging air transport in Africa as a whole. “Liberalisation can lead to increased service levels and lower fares.” In turn, these would facilitate trade, tourism and enhance economic growth and development. She highlighted how those African countries which had already liberalised air transport on a bilateral basis had benefited as a result. These included South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia. Liberalisation of the South Africa–Kenya route in the early 2000s had, for example, increased air travel between the two countries by 69%.
She also pointed out that agreements which allowed low-cost carriers to operate between African countries had, in particular, led to fare reductions. However, within the Southern African Development Community, some countries were maintaining closed air transport regimes.
Peters also highlighted the importance of air safety. “South Africa remains committed to supporting safety initiatives. . . . South Africa is a key member and participates in regional air safety groups and initiatives.”
Peters was seconded by Director of Civil Aviation in the South African Civil Aviation Authority Poppy Khoza in her subsequent address to the convention. She also argued that Africa needed to liberalise its air transport sector. “We need to implement the Yamoussoukro Decision as a matter of urgency.” The decision mandates the liberalisation of the continent’s aviation sector. Implementation of the decision will stimulate development, economic growth, investment and employment across the continent and should be done speedily, she argued.
“States do need to remove trade barriers [between] each other,” she stated. “It has become clear that Africa will have to focus on benefiting from the forecast [economic] growth.” Yet, while not one African country has fully implemented the Yamoussoukro Decision, 23 have signed ‘open skies’ agreements with the US.
Because the implementation of the decision has been slow and limited, its benefits have not yet been realised. “In Africa, we have the greatest number of landlocked countries in the world,” she pointed out. “This increases the need for air transport.”
Moreover, the continent’s middle class, currently about 200-million strong, will continue to grow. “Africa has long remained an untapped source of aviation growth.” It is essential that the African aviation sector benefits from this situation. But, currently, 82% of intercontinental traffic to and from Africa is carried by non-African airlines. “We have only 18% market share.”
“There is a growing need for fast, efficient transport between countries, especially in Africa,” she said. “If we could unite in our efforts to open up Africa, we could offer competitive [ticket prices]. As a continent, we still need to work on cheap transport.”
This need for cooperation was another theme of her address. “Strong partnerships are indeed essential,” highlighted Khoza. “I would encourage each country to reach out to the continent with its particular strengths.” She observed that a lot of progress had already been made, including through the International Civil Aviation Organisation and its regional bodies, councils and seminars. She also cited South African technical support and specialised training for the aviation sectors of other Southern African countries. “There is a strong need for us, as an industry and a continent, to collaborate.”
The Aviation Stakeholders Convention was held at Emperors Palace, at OR Tambo International Airport, east of Johannesburg.
Follow Alive2Green on Social Media