African officials call for urgent regional integration, infrastructure development
African officials on Monday called for urgent infrastructural development and regional integration to boost the continent's economy.
At the Infrastructure Africa 2017 in Johannesburg, Zambian Minister of Finance Felix Mutati encouraged Africans to speedily address infrastructural deficit.
"We have to inject some sense of urgency in ourselves. If we remain captured by business as usual, we are headed for disaster," said Mutati at the opening ceremony of the two-day event.
"Competitiveness in Africa is being constrained by infrastructure deficit. We need about 93 billion U.S. dollars every year to address the infrastructure gap in the continent. We need to urgently implement projects," he said.
Mutati said Africa has to narrow focus to innovative financing and design, better use of existing infrastructure and the deployment of adequate and appropriate technology.
"We need, as government, to define our roles, the things that government can do and those things that we can not do. Government must not monopolize investment in infrastructure. We need to develop further clarity on the question of the participation of the private sector and nature of partnerships that we need to develop with the private sector," he added.
South African Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies said infrastructure development is required to speed up regional integration for increased inter-regional trade and for industrialization in Africa.
He said Africa is losing 40 percent of its competitiveness due to infrastructure deficit. Free trade areas, infrastructure development and cooperation are essential in promoting industrial development across the continent.
"As the government of South Africa we categorically stated that the development of infrastructure is an essential and absolutely fundamental catalyst for regional integration for increased inter-regional trade and for industrialization in Africa. Therefore, infrastructure develop lies in the very heart of our efforts to promote high levels inclusive growth and development throughout the continent," said Davies.
The East African Community deputy secretary general Christophe Bazivamo said there is an improved political, economic and people-to-people integration in their region.
"Integration should have happened yesterday for us to survive in this world. We need to travel together to go far in a sustainable manner. We should also harmonize region policies as countries by coming up with laws in line with our blocs' aspirations," he said.