Durban - "The Durban weather is showing off today. Moving from uncomfortably cold to extremely hot in a matter of minutes," I think to myself as I walk into the MoveAfrica Community session held at the Hilton Hotel in Durban, South Africa. Strange, because Kwa-ZuluNatal in May is usually hot in the afternoons with average high temperatures reaching up to 24 Degrees Celsius. But today is an exception.
I watch with interest as guests from various public and private sector institutions fill the room. The MoveAfrica Community session, organised by the NEPAD Agency in partnership with Barclays Africa, Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), GIZ, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Economic Forum, promises to be an interactive session in which the issue oftransport and trade corridor development will be discussed.
As I observe the guests moving around looking to find their seats, my mind drifts off to the many MoveAfrica meetings I have attended in the past. The meetings in which I got to understand what the initiative is. In simple terms, the MoveAfrica initiative was launched to tackle the challenges and obstacles facing the transport and logistics sector in Africa.
My mind drifts back to the session I am currently in, just in time to hear a colleague tell me, as I move to find my seat: "Today's community session will focus on the NEPAD developed Traffic Light System, a project aimed at eradicating transport and logistics challenges which hamper the movement of people, goods and services in Africa."
The session begins and the President of the Republic of Senegal and Chairperson of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, H.E Macky Sall takes the opportunity to remind guests that development corridors will help propel Africa’s development, growth and regional integration. President Sall also reminds investors that Africa has shown significant improvement and has created an investment friendly climate, therefore, now is an opportune time to invest.
“As a continent, we need to think about programmes that will produce sustainable and quality growth. Africa should contribute much more to global wealth growth, but we cannot do so if we do not focus on crucial issues such as regional integration, industrialisation and corridor development,” the President states.
As the session progresses, I am "transported' into a world envisioned by the various experts in the room. An Africa in which the movement of people, goods and services is simplified, with few challenges! A continent in which intra-African and intra -regional trade is not hampered by transport infrastructure and logistical challenges. An industrialised Africa with enhanced cross-border investments. An Africa with highly effective and efficient One-Stop Border Posts. "The Traffic Light System, among other crucial interventions, can make this vision a reality", they say.
As I keenly listen to the various interventions made by speakers and guests alike, I begin to reflect on the NEPAD Agency CEO, Dr Mayaki’s opening remarks in which he spoke about NEPAD’s various intervention areas in infrastructure development.
“When investors want to invest in infrastructure in Africa, they face challenges on issues related to land, power and logistics. These are some of the reasons that have encouraged us to develop the MoveAfrica initiative,” he says.
"It all makes sense" I start thinking. If infrastructure development projects such as the Traffic Light System, One Stop Border Posts and PIDA Priority Projects are well coordinated jointly by all the key stakeholders in Infrastructure, the movement of people, goods and services between African countries will surely be simplified!
My optimism levels are increased even more as I continue to listen to the feedback from the different groups who had been assigned to address different themes, namely, movement of people, enhancing services, the movement of goods and the prerequisites for corridors.
Having attended so many NEPAD working sessions, I have grown to understand the importance of sharing best practices and experiences among different organisations and countries. This session is no different. Hiroshi Kato, Vice-President of JICA informs the guests that effective government policies, infrastructure development and human resource development are thethree focus areas which have led to economic growth in the Asiatic countries.
The discussions continue for another hour.
In closing the session, the NEPAD Agency Head of Regional Integration, Infrastructure and Trade Programme, Mr Symerre Grey-Johnson reiterates NEPAD’s commitment to the implementation of the MoveAfrica initiative, including the One Stop Border Post and Traffic Light System.
I pack my equipment and watch as the guests walk out. I cast one last look at the venue that has just hosted this fruitful session.
As I close my laptop I reflect on an extract in the MoveAfrica brochure: “There’s no doubt that regional integration is key to narrowing the gap between Africa’s promise and its reality.MoveAfrica is long-term rather than a quick fix looking ahead to the development needs of the continent as envisaged in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.”
A perfect quote to ending a fruitful, promising session …
By Millicent Kgeledi, NEPAD Agency’s Communications representative attending the World Economic Forum
Source: NEPAD Agency