Major African infrastructure programme agreed

By Helen Wright03 February 2012

The 18th African Union Summit saw African heads of state endorse a major, continent-wide infrastructure programme that will run through to 2040.

Described as a "multi-billion dollar" project, the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) is a joint venture initiative between the African Union, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordination Agency.

The programme sets out short-term goals to be achieved by 2020, medium-term goals to be achieved by 2030, and longer term goals for 2040. It is based on projections that the GDP of African countries will multiply six-fold in the next 30 years, increasing the demand for infrastructure.

In the shorter term, PIDA will focus on its priority action plan - 51 regional and continental infrastructure projects designed to meet Africa' immediate needs. According to the AfDB, the short-term focus will be on improving transport infrastructure, including rail networks, ports, inland waterways and roads, as well as access to electricity and telecommunications.

The formal endorsement of PIDA will now be followed by more detailed planning on the actual implementation of projects.

Alex Rugamba, AfDB director for NEPAD, regional integration and trade, said PIDA's goals were ambitious but attainable.

"Some of benefits we foresee include a doubling of intra-African trade from the current levels of 11% to 12%. PIDA will also increase Africa's share of world trade by at least twice today's share of 2%. We also foresee the creation of up to 15 million new jobs from the construction, operation and maintenance of PIDA projects."

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