The Dakar Financing Summit for Africa’s Infrastructure opened in earnest in the Senegalese Capital today, with key messages of hope, aspiration and determination from African Heads of State and industry leaders. The two-day Summit, hosted by President Macky Sall commenced on June 14 with a technical and business focus on 16 key regional infrastructure projects for which crucial financing is required for their successful implementation.
The outcomes of yesterday’s deliberations yielded a draft roadmap document – The Dakar Agenda for Action, which will be discussed at today’s high level Summit. NEPAD CEO Dr Ibrahim Mayaki said that Africans were eager to see positive change so NEPAD and its partners were not in planning but in action mode, to ensure these results.
Three African Heads of State, Presidents Ibrahim Babacar Keita of Mali, Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Yayi Boni of Benin, as well as African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are among 300 delegates at the meeting. They are drawn from the public and private sector, infrastructure industry, development agencies, financiers and senior NEPAD technical experts.
The tone of the speeches carried a sense of enthusiasm and eagerness for concrete action. Speaking about major infrastructures projects in the continent, President Macky Sall said “We must now move to the implementation by mobilizing domestic and external resources”. President Macky Sall also paid tribute to South African President Jacob Zuma, who is the chair Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative (PICI).
The Summit is about how public and private sector can work together to unlock the vital funding required to implement infrastructure projects.
Mr Donald Kaberuka, the President of the Africa Development Bank made four important recommendations: ensure that infrastructure projects marketed to private capital are commercially viable; renovate project finance to leverage limited public resources and bring in private funds; ensure early risk takers who are willing to finance some of these projects at an early stage; and mitigate political risks such as regulation on tariffs and taxes and governments not changing the rules half-way through project financing, which discourages potential investors.
Reference was made to President Goodluck Jonathan’s Government, which has boldly done away with unprofitable subsidies and utilised sovereign wealth funds to finance other development priorities like health and education.
AUC Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that it was important to include women in infrastructure growth, at all levels. “Let is liberate our women from collecting firewood and ensure that they participate in Africa’s strategic infrastructure enhancement.” She said.
Success stories and words of caution were also shared. Mali’s President Ibrahim Babacar Keita warned about the drying up of the Niger River an important source for his country and others in the region. He was said that encroachment of the desert on the River was already making navigation hard and if not tackled soon, could impact on the social economic landscape of the region.
UNECA Executive Secretary Dr Carlos Lopez. In the background is moderator of the Summit, Amadou Mahtar Ba
The need to tap into Africa’s resources was highlighted. “We spend more than US$4 billion a year to engage non-African experts when we have such skills and expert in our own countries and in the Diaspora,” said Mr Carlos Lopez, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa.
A message of good will from the Private Sector by Dotun Ajayi Executive Director of the Africa Business Round Table
The Dakar Agenda for Action plan, to be produced from this Summit, will be the solid plan for financing and implementing Africa’s regional infrastructure programmes.