Aerial photo taken on April 8, 2019 shows the Maputo Bay Bridge in Maputo, Mozambique. The longest twin-tower suspension bridge in Africa, which hovers across the Maputo Bay with a main span of 6200 meters, was officially open to traffic in November of 2018. The bridge is part of the Maputo Bridge and Link Roads project built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, with Chinese standards and financing support. (Xinhua/Zhang Yu)
NAIROBI, April 17 (Xinhua) -- African countries need to channel more funds toward infrastructure development to realize growth and prosperity, an African Union (AU) envoy said on Tuesday.
Raila Odinga, AU high representative for infrastructure development in Africa, told a forum in Nairobi that bridging infrastructure financing should be a priority in stimulating growth on the continent.
"Africa continues to be characterized by an infrastructural deficit, a situation that remains critical with an average gap standing at 170 billion U.S. dollars," Odinga said.
He underscored the critical role played by infrastructure in trade and development and decried lack of progress toward bridging the infrastructure gap.
Odinga urged infrastructure stakeholders in Africa to develop a more comprehensive set of instruments and service delivery mechanisms to enhance implementation of major infrastructure projects.
"To enable Africa compete adequately, we must direct more financial resources towards completion of projects that form major connectivity to the world," Odinga said.
He called for the completion of Tran-Saharan Highway, intercontinental railway for fast trains, Kinshasa-Brazzaville Bridge, and Lagos-Abidjan-Dakar Highway, all key links to connecting Africa and creating jobs for young people from member states.
Odinga called for a more united Africa, saying by uniting, the continent will increase its bargaining power.
"A united Africa will be able to pool its investment resources to ensure it has enough resources to invest in large-scale projects," he said. "That way, we will no longer have to keep begging for funds from various donor nations of the world or loans that are tied to very high interest rates and exploitative conditions."
He encouraged the continent to create more dynamic mobilization strategies and to explore domestic borrowing to accelerate projects' implementation process.
"Numerous financing options are on the table for Africa, apart from external financing. We need to also consider exploring our resources and borrow from our local lending institutions which have more friendly terms," Odinga said.