Former Kenyan Prime Minister RailaOdinga has been appointed as High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa as part of the African Union’s drive to expedite the integration of the continent through infrastructure.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa FakiMahamat, announced the appointment yesterday stating that Odinga’s appointment is aimed at promoting Africa’s economic growth and sustainable development.
“This decision is part of the African Union’s drive to expedite the integration of the continent through infrastructure, in order to promote economic growth and sustainable development” a statement from the AU reads in part.
Odinga’s appointment comes against the backdrop of renewed efforts in this regard, as exemplified by the adoption, last March in Kigali, of the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and the African Passport, as well as by the launching of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), in Addis Ababa in January 2018.
Odinga’s task, according to the appointing authority, is to support and strengthen the efforts of the Commission’s relevant Departments and those of the Planning and Coordinating Agency of the New Partnership for Africa’s Develop-ment (NEPAD), within the framework of the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), which was endorsed by the Assembly of the Union in January 2012.
“In this respect, his mandate includes mobilizing further political support from Member States and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and facilitating greater ownership by all concerned stakeholders on the continent.
He will also support the Commission and NEPAD initiatives to encourage increased commitment from development partners.” The statement said.
The High Representative is tasked to build on the work and leadership of the PIDA Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative (PICI), and “pay particular attention” to the missing links along the transnational highway corridors identified as part of the Trans-African Highways Network, with a view to facilitating their development and modernization.
He will also focus on the continental high-speed train, which is one of the flagship projects of the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063, in the context of the relevant African Union decisions.
Agenda 2063, provides a robust framework for addressing past injustices and the realisation of the 21st Century as the African Century.
By 2063, Africa aspires to have the necessary world-class infrastructure, accompanied by trade facilitation, will see intra-African trade growing from less than 12 per cent in 2013 to approaching 50 per cent by 2045.
Africa’s share of global trade shall rise from 2 per cent to 12 per cent. This will in turn spur the growth of Pan-African companies of global reach in all sectors, according to the continental development blueprint.
Odinga is expected to interact with the current Champions of related African Union initiatives and seek their guidance, to ensure the required synergy and coherence.
Odinga was Prime Minister of Kenya from 2008 to 2013. In addition to having been a Member of Parliament, he has held several ministerial portfolios, including Energy, Roads, Public Works, and Housing between 2001 and 2005, in a career spanning more than forty years.
“The Chairperson of the Commission is grateful to Honorable RailaOdinga for accepting this important assignment. He brings with him a rich political experience and strong commitment to the ideals of Pan-Africanism and African integration, as well as a deep knowledge of infrastructure development.” Mahamat stated.
The AU Commission Chairperson also expresses appreciation to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for “his support to this decision”, consistent with his commitment to African integration.
Mahamat added that, he looks forward to the full cooperation of all Member States with the High Representative, as he carries out the mandate entrusted to him.