President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, yesterday, charged different blocs in the continent to work together for more integration of the market, saying an integrated “a well-connected Africa will be a more competitive Africa.”
Speaking at a session on regional corridor development at the ongoing Africa Investment Forum (AIF) Market Days 2023, the AfDB boss, also highlighted efforts made by the regional bank to develop critical infrastructure required to link the continental market.
He noted that a connected Africa is required to achieve leapfrog continental trade and achieve the mandate of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The President had earlier said that with the African population projected to hit 2.5 billion in 2050, the market holds huge prospects for the global economy even as he urged investors to seize the moment for high returns on equity.
AfCFTA, when fully operational, offers incredible opportunities for boosting intra-regional trade and the emergence of more competitive national, regional and globally connected value chains, he said.
“This can only be achieved through the development of infrastructure. That is why over the past seven years, the AfDB provided over $44 billion for the development of infrastructure. We also devoted $2.5 billion to the development of regional infrastructure.
“The bank’s support for regional integration focuses on catalysing public and private investment in transport and electricity connections. We are financing the development of regional electricity corridors, to assure reliable and competitively priced electricity. AfDB and partners are implementing the $20 billion desert-to-power initiative to develop 10 gigawatt (GW) of solar power across 11 countries of the Sahel zone, including the Sahel regional transmission lines,” he said.
Adesina said the bank is committed to providing funding for regional infrastructure projects up to 90 per cent to open up the continent and increase its competitiveness. According to him, driving support for the development of regional transport corridors is necessary to fast-track the integration of African economies, lower transport costs, connect landlocked countries to coastal countries and improve regional trade.
“As of 2022, the AfDB had financed 25 transport corridors, constructed over 18,000 kilometers of roads, 27 border posts and 16 bridges, for a total amount of $13.5 billion,” he said.
To consolidate the support for regional infrastructure, the AfDB President said, a boardroom would be dedicated to regional corridors in the coming AIF Market Days. This is expected to mobilise private funding to ramp up the attention the bank has given projects across the five regional blocs.
At last year’s AIF Market Days, the Lagos-Abidjan highway, which connects Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire, secured an investment interest of $15.2 billion from multiple financiers and investors.
At the session on regional corridors, the Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalisation, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Sédiko Douka, said a total of $43 million has been mobilised for preparative works on the important project with its feasibility study completed. The amount, he said, was pooled from AfBD and other partners in the project.