NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
African countries need to channel more
funds toward infrastructure development to realize growth and
prosperity, an African Union (AU) envoy said on Tuesday.
Raila Odinga, AU high representative for infrastructure
development in Africa, told a forum in Nairobi that bridging
infrastructure financing should be a priority in stimulating
growth on the continent.
"Africa continues to be characterized by an infrastructural
deficit, a situation that remains critical with an average gap
standing at 170 billion U.S. dollars," Odinga said.
He underscored the critical role played by infrastructure in
trade and development and decried lack of progress toward
bridging the infrastructure gap.
Odinga urged infrastructure stakeholders in Africa to develop
a more comprehensive set of instruments and service delivery
mechanisms to enhance implementation of major infrastructure
"To enable Africa compete adequately, we must direct more
financial resources towards completion of projects that form
major connectivity to the world," Odinga said.
He called for the completion of Tran-Saharan Highway,
intercontinental railway for fast trains, Kinshasa-Brazzaville
Bridge, and Lagos-Abidjan-Dakar Highway, all key links to
connecting Africa and creating jobs for young people from member
Odinga called for a more united Africa, saying by uniting,
the continent will increase its bargaining power.
"A united Africa will be able to pool its investment
resources to ensure it has enough resources to invest in
large-scale projects," he said.
"That way, we will no longer have to keep begging for funds
from various donor nations of the world or loans that are tied
to very high interest rates and exploitative conditions."
He encouraged the continent to create more dynamic
mobilization strategies and to explore domestic borrowing to
accelerate projects’ implementation process.
"Numerous financing options are on the table for Africa,
apart from external financing.
"We need to also consider exploring our resources and borrow
from our local lending institutions which have more friendly
terms," Odinga said.
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