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African officials call for regional integration, infrastructure development

African officials at the Infrastructure Africa 2017 conference in Johannesburg

SOUTHERN AFRICA–– To boost the continent’s economy, African officials on Monday called for urgent regional integration and infrastructural development.

Zambian Minister of Finance Felix Mutati encouraged Africans to swiftly address infrastructural deficit during the Infrastructure Africa 2017 in Johannesburg.

“We have to inject some sense of urgency in ourselves. If we remain captured by business as usual, we are headed for disaster,” said Mutati at the opening ceremony of the two-day event.

“Competitiveness in Africa is being constrained by infrastructure deficit. We need about 93 billion U.S. dollars every year to address the infrastructure gap in the continent. We need to urgently implement projects,” he said.

Mutati said Africa needs to restrict focus to innovative financing and design, better use of existing infrastructure and the deployment of adequate and appropriate technology.

“We need, as government, to define our roles, the things that government can do and those things that we cannot do. Government must not monopolize investment in infrastructure. We need to develop further clarity on the question of the participation of the private sector and nature of partnerships that we need to develop with the private sector,” he added.

For his part, South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies said infrastructural development is essential to speed up regional integration and for increased inter-regional trade and industrialization on the continent.

He said Africa is losing 40 percent of its competitiveness due to infrastructure deficit.
Free trade areas, infrastructure development and cooperation are essential in advancing industrial development across the continent.

“As the government of South Africa we categorically stated that the development of infrastructure is an essential and absolutely fundamental catalyst for regional integration for increased inter-regional trade and for industrialization in Africa. Therefore, infrastructure develop lies in the very heart of our efforts to promote high levels inclusive growth and development throughout the continent,” Davies said.

The deputy secretary general of the East African Community, Christophe Bazivamo, said there is an improved political, economic and people-to-people integration in their region.

“Integration should have happened yesterday for us to survive in this world. We need to travel together to go far in a sustainable manner. We should also harmonize region policies as countries by coming up with laws in line with our blocs’ aspirations,” he said.

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Michael Harrington

Michael Harrington is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.
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