The Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative (PICI) was born out of a proposal by President Jacob Zuma to accelerate regional infrastructure development enabled through the political championing of projects. This proposal was made during the 23rd Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee meeting in Kampala, Uganda, in July 2010. The role of the champions is to bring visibility, unblock bottlenecks, co-ordinate resource mobilisation and ensure project implementation. It presents the opportunity for African Heads of State and Government to be actively involved in the development and implementation of projects.
Initially eight projects were identified to be championed by the seven selected Heads of State and Government. Most of these projects were endorsed by the 16th AU Assembly in January 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, while others, such as the LAPSSET Corridor Project, later joined the PICI family, thus making the total number of projects nine, championed by eight Heads of State and Government. South Africa, under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma, chairs the PICI. The projects cover four infrastructure sectors, namely transport, energy, ICT and transboundary water.
The proposal was jointly developed by the NEPAD Agency and the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation into a Technical Concept Paper, and eventually the PICI, with a fixed reporting structure and implementation strategy.
The objective of the PICI is to ensure that the projects are implemented within five years (2010–2015). In this context implementation is defined as the advancement of the project from pre-feasibility to feasibility phase, or from feasibility to construction, or simply that demonstrable evidence of progress is available.