Regional meet tackles infrastructure challenges

Africa needs to develop efficient public infrastructure if it is to ease the cost of doing business, Rwanda’s Minister for East African Affairs, Monique Mukaruriza, has said.
UN Country representative Aurelien Agbenonci (L) and Minister for East African Affairs Monique Mukaruliza at the High level meeting on Regional Integration. (Photo J. Mbanda)
UN Country representative Aurelien Agbenonci (L) and Minister for East African Affairs Monique Mukaruliza at the High level meeting on Regional Integration. (Photo J. Mbanda)

Africa needs to develop efficient public infrastructure if it is to ease the cost of doing business, Rwanda’s Minister for East African Affairs, Monique Mukaruriza, has said.

She said that diagnostic studies have revealed that the poor infrastructure on the continent increases the cost of doing business by 40 percent in landlocked countries.

“I am dwelling on infrastructure because it clearly demonstrates the need for us to achieve cost efficiencies and become competitive in today’s globalised world,” she said.

Mukaruriza made the remarks yesterday at Kigali Serena Hotel during the opening ceremony of the meeting on Regional Integration.

The two day meeting has gathered UN agencies, Ministers of regional integration, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Civil Society.

She noted that the cost of business is dependent not only on quality and efficiency of infrastructure in the country, but that of the neigbouring countries too.

Rwanda’s domestic goods and services also depend on roads, rail and ports in the neighboring countries, the minister said.

She highlighted the benefits of regional integration which include, trade creation among member states, greater economies of scale, increased investment, free movements of resources and improved bargaining power.

In his remarks Amb. Eugene Munyakayanza, representing Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that in sub-Saharan Africa, the average time to get a container of products to a ship is said to be forty eight days.

“Preparation for export involves 11 documents, seventeen visits to different offices, twenty nine signatures and sixty days to move goods from the factory to the ship.”

Munyakayanza urged that in order to change this disabling situation, Africa urgently needs to adopt a different mindset and effect corrective measures.

The Deputy Executive secretary for Economic Commission for Africa , Lalla Ben Barka, said the high level meeting is timely because it will  consider the operational framework for an Eastern and Southern Africa sub-regional coordination mechanism(SRCM), taking into account the realities and priorities of respective sub-regions.

“One major characteristics in the international arena over the last decade has been the pace at which the world economy is globalizing,” she said.

She urged that an integrated continental market remains Africa’s best hope for strengthening its manufacturing sector therefore diversifying its economy, enhancing employment and reducing poverty.

Some of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) represented include, the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Communty (SADC).

They also include the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the Community of Sahel-Saharan Countries(CEN_SAD).

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