UNLOCK POTENTIAL

Raila roots for intra-Africa trade during Igad meeting

Says this will only thrive with well established regional infrastructure

In Summary

• Raila proposes for the establishment of the Africa Fund for Infrastructure to among others finance transnational infrastructure projects 

• Challenges bilateral and multilateral donors to support specific projects of their choice

ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses members from Marsabit, Mandera, Tharaka Nithi and Narok counties who joined the party on September 3.
ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses members from Marsabit, Mandera, Tharaka Nithi and Narok counties who joined the party on September 3.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has pitched for intra-Africa trade to unlock the potential in the region.

Raila said trade will thrive with well established regional infrastructure.

The Africa Union High Representative spoke during the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development regional infrastructure masterplan partners’ roundtable in Nairobi.

The ODM leader proposed the establishment of the Africa Fund for Infrastructure to among others finance transnational projects, which cannot be factored in the national budgets.

He challenged bilateral and multilateral donors to support specific projects of their choice.

Railansaid the eight Igad countries have natural resources that need to be exploited for the benefit of the present and future generations.

Igad region comprises of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

The ex-PM called for massive investment in transport, energy and ICT infrastructure. 

“Regional priority projects, therefore, need to be incorporated in national development plans and also get prioritized in Regional Economic Communities infrastructure master plans,”  Raila said.

“Each country must play its role for meaningful regional integration and trade to be realised.”

He said continental free trade will only be realised if the Regional Economic Communities are effective in their role of facilitating economic integration between members

“Infrastructure projects that cut across national boundaries and are regional can be developed simultaneously, with each country committing to do its part, while the RECs provide supporting and coordinating roles,” he said.

“With that spirit, the Kisumu-Malaba-Kampala Standard Gauge Railway line can be done in a fairly short time if Kenya and Uganda commit to developing their respective segments.”

He said the Igad largely sits on unexploited minerals, something that makes the region lag.  

“Together, we have tremendous potential in oil and gas, geothermal energy, hydro and solar power generation. These natural resources need to be exploited, harnessed and developed to benefit present and future generations,” he said.

Raila also decried the infrastructure gap and energy deficit in Africa, terming it a hindrance to the continent’s socio-economic growth.

“Africa's road network deficit is estimated at a minimum of 60,000 kilometres by 2040 while the rail network gap is estimated at 30,000 kilometres in the same period,” he said.

“Africa's current total installed capacity is a mere145 GW against the production target of 700 GW by the year 2040.”

He said the continent urgently needs some 17 new airports and seven seaports.

Edited by Kiilu Damaris