NAIROBI - A high level infrastructure conference bringing together experts from the three regional groupings of the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) is slated to open today in Nairobi, Kenya.
The two-day conference, that will also be attended by participants from Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), will highlight priority infrastructure projects along the Northern, Central, Lamu and Djibouti corridors and mobilise funds to finance them.
The main objective of the conference is to advance the projects to allow investors from the private sector, governments and donor community to finance such projects through institutional arrangements.
These include direct private sector investment, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) or Public Expenditure.
Dr Alexis Nzahabwanimana, the State Minister in charge of Transport, described the conference as an important platform that will provide solutions to the impediments that hinder the transport sector in the region.
Reports indicate that transport costs have remained a major barrier to trade and investment in the region, which form the cornerstone for economic growth and regional prosperity.
“It’s a significant meeting that will help us mobilise investors to fund some regional infrastructure projects like the East African Railway and other energy projects,” he said.
Some of the donors expected to finance the projects include the World Bank, European Union, African Development Bank among others.
Other targeted projects include roads, ports, inland waterways and energy sectors.
The conference will officially be opened by President Mwai Kibaki and attended by various Heads of State, including King Mswati of Lesotho, who is chairman of COMESA, Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza, chairman of EAC, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos who heads SADC and Meles Zenawi, Ethiopian prime minister and chair of IGAD.