Spearheaded by President Jacob Zuma, the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative (PICI), aimed at accelerating regional trade and unlocking the economic potential of the continent, now has nine African presidents on board, with ten projects in the spotlight as Africa continues its infrastructure development drive.
Speaking at the Infrastructure Africa conference on Monday, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) Planning and Coordinating Agency transport infrastructure expert and PICI coordinator Dr John Tambi highlighted that progress was being made across Africa with the partnerships of country leaders driving long-standing infrastructure projects.
When the PICI was first initiated in 2011, eight projects to be ‘championed’ were identified by seven selected heads of State, who committed to bringing visibility and awareness to the projects, providing political leadership, unblocking political bottlenecks, leading resource mobilisation for project implementation, ensuring speedy implementation and regularly reporting on the projects to the African Union.
One of the latest projects under the umbrella of the heads of State included Kenya’s $24.5-billion LAPSSET Corridor project, which comprises three airports, three resort cities, 32 berths at Kenya’s Lamu Port, a railway line, a crude oil pipeline, oil refineries and highways interlinking Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan, with plans in place to eventually connect to Uganda.
Progress is being made on the initial group of projects, including Algeria’s $102-million Trans-Sahara Highway “missing links” and its attached $80-million, 4 500-km terrestrial optic-fibre project, both running from Algeria to Nigeria.
The 4 400 km Trans-Saharan natural gas pipeline is expected to be deployed along a 1 037 km route from Nigeria to the Niger border, and a further 841 km from Niger to Algeria, across Algeria spanning 2 303 km, before ending in Spain 220 km away.
Led by Senegal, the $2.2-billion Dakar-Ndjamena-Djbouti project, an 8 715-km road/rail
initiative spanning ten countries, is expected to start in 2018.
A road/rail project in Congo, ready for implementation in 2018, is also a highlight of the PICI.
Congo is seeking funding for the Kinshasa-Brazzaville Bridge road/rail project comprising a fixed crossing linking Kinshasa in the DRC with Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo.
Egypt’s construction of the navigational line between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea aims to promote intermodal transport by integrating river, rail and road transport facilities along the Nile Corridor.
Rwanda has completed and interconnected the five East African Community countries to the sub-marine cables at Mombasa, in Kenya and Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania, with the focus of the project since shifting to a Smart Africa initiative to provide last mile connectivity and ensure that information and communication technology are extended to all regions, urban and rural.
South Africa has continued its work on the North-South Corridor multimodal trans-continental rail/road/port project connecting Cape Town and Cairo.