New York, September 25, 2014 – On the margins of the Climate Summit in New York, the Japanese government convened the second roundtable with African Regional Economic Communities (RECs), chaired by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to underline the importance of regional infrastructure as an essential requisite to Africa's growth. Participants included Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Chairman of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana and Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, as well as the Chief Executive Officers of the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community.
Partnering with RECs and with the Programme for Infrastructure Development for Africa (PIDA) is important in the move toward a transnational approach for infrastructure development. Shinzo Abe insisted that "RECs are the cornerstone for regional integration. Let's work on strengthening the cooperation between Japan and the economic communities in Africa".
The representatives of the RECs agreed that the lack of infrastructure is a major bottleneck for trade and investment and called for more financing on the continent, especially with Public Private Partnerships. With more than two-third of its operations in infrastructure, the African Development Bank (AfDB) was mentioned as the key player in this sector with the new Africa50 infrastructure fund.
Speaking on behalf of the EAC, Michel Kamau, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure in Kenya, specifically welcomed the operationalization of this fund. He was supported by the Chad representative, speaking for the Central African States, and by the President of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
AfDB supports successful regional infrastructure projects such as the multi-sectoral Maputo Corridor, the Mombasa-Nairobi-Addis Ababa Road Corridor, or projects identified in the PIDA energy priority action plan such as Inga III or Rusumo Falls.
The AfDB already partners with Japan through the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance (EPSA) initiative for Africa. Japan has provided generous financial support since its launch in 2005 at the Gleneagles G8 Summit. Under the first phase of the EPSA Initiative, completed in 2011, Japan provided US $1 billion for a wide range of investment and technical assistance projects, some 75 in total, focusing particularly on the energy, communications, transportation and financial sectors, i.e., building the foundations for private sector growth and development. Under the second phase of EPSA, launched in 2012, Japan has doubled its commitment to US $2 billion (2012-2017), a substantial portion of which will support PIDA priority regional infrastructure projects.
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