A team of experts in charge of infrastructure from the five EAC partner states have adopted the bloc’s transport strategy and road sector development programme that gives a clear roadmap for infrastructure development in the region.
Following its approval, the strategy will now be taken through the EAC policy organs for final approval, a process that is expected to end by June.
“The team of experts will review it before it is taken to the Council of Ministers to ensure that the outcome of stakeholders’ meeting is captured,” Alloys Mutabingwa, EAC’s Deputy Secretary General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, told Business Times, in an interview shortly after the meeting on Friday. The strategy, he said, will strengthen the region’s plans to roll-out effective and efficient infrastructure, hence lower transport related costs of production and trade across East Africa and beyond.
“As a community we need to have critical infrastructure projects running in each country, targeted at the same result, running at the same time and, therefore, joined in the cause of implementing it,” he said.
The EAC Secretariat is working on a corridor diagnostic study covering the Northern and Central Corridors that link the ports of Mombasa and Dar-es- salaam to the hinterlands of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern DRC while linking the Lamu- Addis Ababa and Juba Corridor as well.
However, Mutabingwa underscored that mobilising financing to implement the planned regional projects remains a challenge.
According to the EAC Secretariat, the region will require approximately US$70 billion in the next 10 years to fully invest in all priority projects proposed at the regional level, covering transport in railways, roads, inland, waterways and air transport.
“Financing and investing into such infrastructure requires a political decision because the countries are not yet (at) a level of borrowing together; the EAC secretariat is not allowed to borrow on behalf of the community,” Mutabingwa explained.
The official also said the region is yet to develop a regional mechanism for Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) that could ease attracting investment in the sector.
“We have an idea to develop a regional PPPs policy and legal framework to harness private sector capital from all over the world” he added.
The strategy covers all the sub-sectors including: civil aviation–airports and facilities for regional and international scheduled connectivity and railways (existing and potential links as per EAC rail master plan).
Others include the ports and maritime, inland waterways (existing sea ports including Lamu and Mtwara), major ports on lakes Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa, plus River Kagera and all the major road corridors.