High cost of infrastructural development in Africa has been attributed to rampant corruption and unnecessary delays in the completion period.
The AU’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga regretted that sometimes prices tend to be overpriced away from the initial capital cost only to benefit a few wayward and disgruntled players in the implementation process.
Odinga called on all stakeholders in the infrastructural development on the continent to exercise high level of integrity to safeguard the limited resources available.
He said projects have been mismanaged both technically and financially due to corrupt practices, noting that the practice had impoverished the continent terming it the worst enemy of Africa.
He singled out Africa as the richest continent in terms of resources, yet the poorest in terms of living conditions of her people, regretting that the railway lines were not kept up to date.
“The railways became a victim of corruption and mismanagement, as President Museveni argues, the railway has become a museum piece,” stated Odinga.
The Former PM was speaking Thursday during an Expert Group meeting jointly organised by African Union Commission Department of Infrastructure and Energy (AUC-DIE), the African Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), and COMESA at a Nairobi hotel.
The two-day meeting has brought together experts from Africa to review and agree on the results and outcome of the Project Preparation Framework (PPF) analysis through selection and prioritization of two to three multi-country High Speed Railway (HSR) passenger-freight projects, to be piloted during the first 10 year Implementation Plan.
He said Kenya’s 100,000 km Mombasa-Nairobi-Kampala railway line which was referred to as the Kenya -Uganda railway, was constructed by the British Colony in only five years and it served the two countries very well.
Odinga said the rail that went up to Kasese is still the same as no single inch has ever been added after 50 years.
“We need to have a much more vibrant implementation machinery to enable us move much faster, and similarly transform ourselves to the EU,” he said.
He added that time had come for Africans to make hard decisions devoid of discouragement from various quarters.
“Just as the construction of Ugandan railway, it requires vision and courage of the leaders, despite criticisms and skepticisms, Africa must summon that same courage for the sake of the next generation.
Odinga said lack of reliable rail network over the decade has put industries and agriculture on tremendous competitive disadvantage, hindering economic development.
He at the same time observed that transport cost absorbs about 40 percent of export value of some of the continent’s agricultural produce giving an example of how cars transported from Japan to the Port of Mombasa takes a shorter period than transporting the same to the port of Kampala.
The High Representative said a lot of work needs to be undertaken by institutions like NEPAD who are charged with the responsibility of dealing with infrastructure.
In May 2013, at the 50 years’ celebration of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the African union (AU) Heads of State pledged to integrate the ideals of shared value and common purpose through the development of AU Agenda to the Year 2063 to be a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years.
This initiative is aimed at interconnecting African capitals with each other, and with economic and industrial hubs and major tourism locations across the continent using high speed rail (HST) technology and other complementary power, trans-boundary water and ICT broadband infrastructure and services.
The experts have prioritized and selected 10 African Union flagship Agenda 2063 pilot projects in the continent which include Mombasa-Nairobi-Kampala railway link, Durban-Pretoria-Gaborone (South-Botswana), Abidjan-Ouagadougou (Ivory Coast- Burkina Faso), Tunis- Algiers-Addis Ababa- Djibouti.
By Bernadette Khaduli