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Mega infrastructure project delays hurt intra-Africa trading


African Union High Representative for the continent's Infrastructure Development Raila Odinga. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

Delays in cross-boundary infrastructure projects have been caused by a lack of cooperation among countries, slowing down intra-Africa trade.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga says derailed investment of infrastructure projects in transport, energy and ICT in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region has interrupted the completion of planned priority projects among member states.

The IGAD fosters the implementation of specific infrastructure projects for job creation and regional integration across its eight member states — Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

Some of the projects that have been delayed include the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor, Kisumu-Malaba-Kampala standard gauge railway, Nairobi –Mogadishu fibre optic link and Ethiopia-Sudan Power Transmission Interconnector.

“LAPSSET is a good example of a regional project whose implementation has been paralysed by the lack of national ownership and failure by regional economic communities (RECs) to prioritise it,” Mr Odinga, who is also the AU representative for infrastructure development in Africa, said.

“Continental free trade will only be realised if the RECs are effective in their role of facilitating regional economic integration between members of the region.’’

He was speaking during the opening of the IGAD conference yesterday in Nairobi set to push member states to raise their investment levels and drum up new financing following the start of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Lamu Port first berth, part of the LAPSSET corridor project is complete but there are still construction works for the other two berths, highways and crude oil pipeline.

Other projects like international airports and inter-regional SGR railway lines under the project are yet to be delivered.

In May, Uganda signed a Sh5 billion deal with a Chinese firm to revamp its century-old metre gauge railway line between Malaba and Kampala.

Lack of commitment

The line links the SGR track through Naivasha to Malaba that Kenya is also upgrading, further opening the landlocked country to Mombasa port.

The project had slowed due to a lack of commitment by the two countries over concerns of its economic viability and financing.

Mr Odinga also decried the low exploitation of resources in the eight states such as blue economy, oil and gas and geothermal and solar energy that could support economic growth by leveraging the 300 million population in the region.

There are 61 projects in transport, nine in energy, 14 in ICT and five in transboundary waterways under IGAD infrastructure master plan short-term priority projects prepared last year.

The projects are estimated to cost $34 billion (Sh3.8 trillion) and are expected to be completed by 2024.

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