Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
19-20 March, CAADP Partnership Forum, Seychelles.
21-22 March, CAADP capacity building workshop, Seychelles. Source : NEPAD, 20 03 08
In a wide-ranging question-and-answer interview Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie, head of the NEPAD Unit at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) reviews progress with the NEPAD Action Plan in relation to regional integration and economic development ; the collaboration of NRID – the NEPAD and Regional Integration Division of the ECA – with its partners ; and the ECA’s business plan for 2007-2007.
The interview was conducted by Emmanuel Ngwainmbi, a communication and marketing consultant at the African Development Bank.
What does UNECA see as its role in developing infrastructures in Africa and how is it linked to or guided by NEPAD’s infrastructure agenda ?
Through our sub-regional offices, we have worked closely with the stakeholders in preparing their action plans, programmes and policy briefs and in some cases assisted in identifying bankable projects. We have also assisted member states of the Africa Union in conducting feasible studies on projects by jointly organising workshop, seminars and conferences.
In fact, ECA’s contribution to meeting Africa’s development challenges is shaped by continental priorities. Its mandate and work programmes and the activities carried out through its five sub-regional offices support the achievement of the general objectives of NEPAD.
ECA has strategically realigned its programme priorities with those of the AU and its NEPAD programme. In a nutshell, NRID aims to :
promote sub-regional, regional and inter-regional cooperation in the fields of transport, energy, communications, water resources development and management, as well as policies and programmes to strengthen the process of economic cooperation and integration in furtherance of the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community and the Constitutive Act of the African Union ;
provide technical assistance for strengthening the capacity of the various economic communities at the sub-regional level as well as national machineries in implementing agreed regional integration programmes ;
conduct studies and make recommendations on issues of significant impact on regional cooperation and integration, including intra-African trade and regional trade liberalisation and payment arrangements, and disseminate information on economic cooperation at the regional level ;
assist member states in mobilising resources for the financing of transport and communications infrastructures.
Many organisations inside and outside Africa are fiercely involved in its infrastructure development. What value does UNECA add to this initiative ? ECA’s dual role as a regional arm of the United Nations, and as a part of the regional institutional landscape in Africa, positions it well to make unique contributions to member state efforts. Its strength derives from its role as the only UN agency mandated to operate at the regional and sub-regional level to harness resources and bring them to bear on Africa’s priorities. This is particularly important because the perspectives of AU and NEPAD are also primarily regional and sub-regional.
This comparative advantage is reflected in ECA’s leadership role in coordinating UN inter-agency support to NEPAD. The Commission’s convening power allows it to mobilise stakeholders to discuss, make decisions and implement actions in relation to Africa’s development agenda.
Can you describe major infrastructure-related successes scored by ECA since NEPAD identified infrastructure as a key parameter for economic growth ?
Our support to the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) has been very effective, resulting in a number of infrastructure initiatives. ECA, in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the RECs and African Development Bank (AfDB) has undertaken a number of infrastructure initiatives over the past few years.
At the request of African countries the United Nations General Assembly declared 1978-88 the first Transport and Communications Decade for Africa (UNTACDA I) and 1991-2000 the second Transport and Communications Decade for Africa (UNTACDA II), with the ECA serving as the lead institution for the implementation of the activities of that period. The declarations focused on the attention of development partners on Africa’s infrastructure.
As a result, programmes were developed to establish an efficient integrated transport and communications system as a basis for physical integration and trade. In March 2002, African countries with assistance from ECA, adopted the successor arrangement of UNTACDA II, which is a detailed Action Plan (The Way Forward) assigning responsibilities to key transport stakeholders.
ECA, AfDB and the AU are the main promoters of the implementation of the Trans-African Highways programme (TAH) composed of sections of trunk roads, which make up the principal Trans-African routes and the adjacent access roads serving the different African sub-regions.
In 2002, ECA and AfDB jointly undertook a major review of the implementation status of TAH. The report of the study presents an action plan for implementing the programme. In addition to TAH, several regional transport corridors have been identified in Africa.
There is also the Sub-Saharan African Transport Policy Programme (SSATP) launched in 1987 as a joint initiative of ECA and the World Bank, to promote and facilitate integrated policies and strategies for transport sector capacity building. This initiative which now focuses on road management and financing was instrumental in the creation of road funds in several African countries.
SSATP is now a partnership involving 33 African countries and several donors. The programme defines a long-term development plan for 2004-2007 to boost the transport development agendas of the Regional Economic Communities and NEPAD and to support poverty reduction and economic growth objectives.
Other achievements include the Almaty Plan of Action. ECA played a significant role in the adoption of the Almaty Programme of Action in August 2003, which addresses the special needs of landlocked developing countries and provided a global framework for transit transport cooperation for landlocked and transit developing countries, taking into account the interests of both landlocked and transit developing countries.
ECA also contributed to the creation of the African Telecommunication Union and continues to provide assistance to member states on e-commerce, through the Regional E-Strategies to improve the capacity of the RECs to formulate, harmonise and coordinate e-strategies in their respective sub-regions.
ECA continues to play an active role in this sector, first through its extensive work and support within the framework of the UN Transport and Communications Decades, and through its continued assistance to successor arrangements to the Decade programmes including the NEPAD infrastructure component. The Commission has also been instrumental in the preparation and adoption of competition rules for air transport liberalization in the different RECs, including provision of technical support for organizing meetings and workshops.
Since 2005, ECA’s Office in Central Africa has been proactive in assisting the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) to prepare and adopt a consensual transport development plan and introduced the Geo Information System for projects identified by member states.
The system will help development partners to visualise and assess the physical road projects associated with the economic and socio development factors. ECA’s Office also set up a follow-up committee at operational and ministerial levels for the implementation of the projects. These committees will meet regularly this year to evaluate implementation processes.
ECA carries out major activities in ICT, a sub-cluster of the NEPAD Short-term Action Plan (STAP) on infrastructure ; convenes and facilitates meetings of the sub-cluster ; encourages online discussion for members of the sub-cluster to exchange ideas and coordinate activities on ICT issues ; supports Africa at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
Describe the plans of the NEPAD and Regional Integration Division of UNECA in collaborating with, the NEPAD Division in AfDB, and other NEPAD constituents in fostering regional integration and economic development in Africa ?
In the context of the NRID’s work plans, as well as in collaboration with the AU Commission and the AfDB, there are many areas, but I’ll mention a few key future joint ventures between NRID and the NEPAD Secretariat. We’ve been :
building RECs’ institutional capacities as well as national capacities to implement and follow-up on regional integration programmes ;
conducting workshops and seminars on trade facilitation ;
promoting intra-African trade through joint studies with NEPAD and the AU ;
providing support to the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision for air transport liberalisation in the context of the NEPAD Short-Term Action Plan ;
partnering with the African Forum for Utility Regulators, NEPAD Secretariat and AfDB to develop African codes of conduct, standards and guidelines for the exploitation of natural resources like oil/gas, solid minerals, water and energy while conducting training workshops on integrated resources planning for minerals, energy/electricity and water resources management.
We’re also partnering with other regional institutions in the implementation of the United Nations Development Agency project on public-private partnership alliance for capacity building in infrastructure development and provision of basic services.
We’re implementing the Almaty programme for land-locked countries ; providing knowledge management, especially in the establishment of a peer-learning group on natural resources management.
We’re conducting a five-year review of the NEPAD Short-term Action Plan and the status of energy and transport development in Africa, to be completed in 2009.
Some of NRID’s joint activities with AfDB include the hosting of a review workshop of the Study on the NEPAD Infrastructure Medium-to-Long Term Strategic Framework in June 2007 in Addis Ababa, participation in the meetings of the Steering Committees of the NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility and the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa and a review of the strategic directions for the new AfDB Division of NEPAD, Trade and Regional Integration.
Part of ECA’s Business Plan for 2007-2009 is to foster implementation of NEPAD’s infrastructure initiatives. What progress has been made ?
A training workshop was held in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency to raise awareness of African energy experts on the benefits of promoting the application of Integrated Resource Planning tools for the development of least-cost power in the context of sustainable development.
In 2006, we launched the first comprehensive African Water Development Report which is expected to serve as a dynamic system of monitoring and managing progress in the implementation of the African Water Vision and other international challenges such as the Millennium Development Goals.
In collaboration with the AU Commission, we organised the 7th meeting of the monitoring body of the Yamoussoukro Decision on liberalisation of air transport in Africa in October 2007, and reviewed interim guidelines for the negotiation of air transport services with third parties in order to protect the African market.
We organised the African Road Safety Conference resulting in the Accra Declaration on Road Safety, later adopted by the AU Ministers of Road Transport meeting in Durban, South Africa. We’re now preparing the regional mid-term review of the Almaty programme for landlocked countries planned for 2008.
ECA has played a major role in :
assisting the RECs and Sector Inter-Governmental Organisations (IGOs) in building capacity by providing technical support to the Southern and Eastern Africa Mineral Centre and to the Nile Basin Initiative through the Water Resources Planning and Management Project of the Regional Decision Support Office ;
participating in the regional workshop to validate a roadmap for the preparation of a Strategic Action Plan and the organisation of a donors roundtable on the Congo Basin ;
helping COMESA prepare the multi-year programme of collaboration ;
advising the Governments of Liberia and Angola to reform the mining policy, legal and regulatory frameworks, and fiscal regime.
Further, some major publications were completed, like the ARIA III on Macro-economic Policy Convergence in RECs ; Energy for Sustainable Development : Policy Options for Africa ; Unleashing Energy Access in Africa : Rural Energy Access Scale-up Mechanism for Africa.
As you can see, considerable progress has been made in the energy, water, transport, resource and mineral development sectors.
Although NEPAD has launched a new Spatial Development Initiative to scale up the delivery of infrastructure services including a review of policy and legal and regulatory frameworks, observers argue that no tangible progress has been made. It is understood, however, that ECA will provide strategic support to NEPAD’s infrastructure activities and help with reviewing existing feasibility studies in transport, energy, water, resources, and natural resources aimed at promoting regional integration. Can you provide any update on these plans ?
In its efforts to share knowledge for the economic development of Africa, ECA has planned key activities for 2008-2009 that include more training workshops, seminars and conferences.
A regional workshop on fostering implementation of NEPAD’s Spatial Development Programme is to take place in South Africa in April or May this year. It will focus on the role of public private partnerships (PPPs) in boosting the links between natural resources and infrastructure development.
Other events planned for 2008 and 2009 include capacity building in the strategic management of PPP programmes, and new developments in PPPs ; African regional meeting on the implementation of the Almaty programme of action ; and on integrated resources planning management.
Capacity building for inter-regional electricity access and supply is being planned, but the venue has not yet been decided.
This year, there are a number of field projects in the pipeline that include a meeting with the international study group to review Africa’s mining regimes, specifically African codes of conduct, guidelines, and standards for natural resources management, including peer-learning- group natural resources management. It will conduct e-discussions on Africa’s mining regimes, research on Africa’s mining regimes and the establishing of a mechanism for scaling-up energy access in Africa, and liaise with major RECs to set up modalities of cooperating in scaling-up. We’re also planning a big conference on investment in infrastructure and natural resources development in Africa for 2009.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you arrived at your current position ?
I am a professor of economics. As Chief of the NEPAD Section I am responsible for UNECA’s support to NEPAD and for coordinating UN system-wide support to the African Union and its NEPAD programme. Prior to this, I was the Focal Point for the African Peer Review Mechanism and worked on macroeconomic policy and finance at UNECA
As an economist based in Africa what, in your view, has been the biggest change in infrastructure development in Africa over the last 10 years ?
There has been increased focus on ICT development in an effort to get Africa to join the Information Age and accelerate its development.
What are the greatest obstacles to infrastructure development in Africa today ?
In general, infrastructure development in Africa faces the following challenges :
lack of appropriate and adequate policy coordination and implementation ;
inadequate financing for expansion and maintenance ;
lack of appropriate human and institutional capacity ;
inadequate safety and security ;
unexploited technological development ;
lack of an appropriate database ;
disjointed and inappropriate infrastructure network.
Another constraint to financing infrastructure development in Africa is that it competes with other sectors, such as agriculture, health and education for the attention of managers and government funds.
The funds needed to upgrade the continent infrastructure are much larger than governments and the donor community can provide. To redress this both domestic and external private sector financing must be mobilized. However, inherent high risks combined with the limited size of the domestic markets make infrastructure projects unattractive to foreign private investors, while local investors may be too few, too poor, and technically unskilled to undertake major infrastructure investments.
The absence of long-term bond markets also makes it difficult to raise the required funds. User charges are often inadequate to fully finance maintenance costs, let alone the private rate of return on invested capital.
Should NEPAD then focus its resources on social infrastructure and leave commercial projects to the private sector ?
In line with the principles of the NEPAD framework and given resource constraints, exploring public-private partnership is one of the ways to deal with and advance infrastructure development both socially and commercially. Experience from the rest of the world shows that PPPs are no panacea ; there are associated risks. However, the private sectors’ comparative advantages — skills and resources — can be used to complement government expenditure.
The challenge is to develop strategies to reduce the risk of failure of private infrastructure schemes. In this regard organisations and implementing organs supporting NEPAD can build consensus for PPP, enhance government capacity to plan, negotiate, design, implement and monitor PPP projects, develop sound regulatory regimes and strengthening regulatory capacity, improve efficiency and accountability of service provision, ensure transparency of privatisation or award processes, develop local financial markets, and reduce the time of the negotiation process and bidding costs for infrastructure projects. Source : NEPAD, 20 03 08