The remark was made by Silvester Kasuku, the Director General (CEO) of the African Center for Transport, Infrastructure and Regional Integration (ACTIRI) and former CEO of the LAPSSET Authority, in Nairobi on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 7th ‘infrastructure. Development in Africa, (PIDA) Week under the theme
“The investment potentials of the LAPSSET Land Bridge to Central Africa and beyond. The LAPSSET Corridor Program is a regional flagship project to provide transport and logistics infrastructure aimed at creating seamless connectivity between the countries of East Africa of Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
The project connects a population of 160 million people in the three countries and is part of the largest land bridge that will link the East African coast at the Port of Lamu to the West African coast at the Port of Douala.
According to Kasuku, infrastructure projects like the LAPSSET corridor project, which is the largest and most ambitious infrastructure project in East Africa, are critical not only for Kenya, but for the whole region. in its entirety.
He added that the project is forging ties that strengthen East Africa’s regional integration, thereby creating the new foundation needed for economic growth.
While emphasizing the unique significance of the project, he said the road has improved connectivity between Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan, thereby generating positive economic synergy between the three countries.
“The project constitutes the largest land bridge ever planned on the continent, serving as a link to the Belt and Road Initiative and spreading the impact of the 4IR across Africa,” he said. declared.
He insisted that in order to make positive progress, Africa must transform its population into an entrepreneurial population that supports growth in Africa. “The private sector is a key partner of governments and RECs in the successful implementation of LAPSSET,” Kasuku said.
For his part, the director of the transport and infrastructure department of the Infrastructure Concessions Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Emmanuel Onwodi, said that developed economies may not be able to provide the financing required for this project. and called for exploring other means of funding. , including public-private partnerships (PPPs), loans from development finance institutions and business tax credits. Amb. Francis Kirimi Muthaura, Chairman of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), said there is no alternative but to realize the transformative potential of LAPSSET.
“Accelerating mega-project approvals would show that the region is serious about fixing its infrastructure projects, thereby attracting a large number of investors,” Amb Muthaura said. Robert Lisinge, Chief, Energy, Infrastructure and Services Section, Private Sector Development and Finance Division, ECA, emphasizes that working together is the key strategy for the success of regional infrastructure programs in Africa . “However, the collaboration has had limited success so far, as shown by the slow implementation of cross-border infrastructure programs,” Lisinge noted.
He highlighted some of the solutions adopted in Africa’s regional infrastructure, such as building political consensus and gaining high-level buy-in to move projects forward and taking regional perspectives into account. when developing national policies.
“This, in turn, could contribute to efforts to take full advantage of regional development initiatives, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” said Lisinge, consultant Danilo Desiderio at the United Nations Economic Commission. for Africa) noted that investment in infrastructure alone is not a guarantee for increased intra-African trade.
“In fact, soft infrastructure interventions are also needed to increase the efficiency of borders and transport along trade corridors through a reduction in the time, cost and number of documents required for import, export and trade transactions. export and transit”, he underlined.
He added that experience from other corridors in Africa has shown that navigating along these corridors can be costly and frustrating, especially when cross-border transport operations involve the movement of goods through countries located within the territories. of different regional economic communities, due to the need for transport and logistics companies to comply with regulatory frameworks applicable to cross-border transport operations which are deeply fragmented and not harmonized.
Desiderio concluded that in view of the African Union’s plans to develop a network of trans-African highways to link the main capitals and centers of production and consumption on the continent, it will be opportune to overcome the current fragmentation of transport regulations. cross-border road. and open a debate on the possibility of developing a regulatory framework at the continental level, with the establishment of a pan-African transit guarantee system.
The experience so far gained by each African REC in adopting such systems, such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) RCTG Carnet, the Development Community Regional Customs Transit Bond of Southern Africa (SADC) and the new Economic Community of West Africa The Community Mechanism for Guaranteeing the Transit of African States (ECOWAS) should in the future converge towards a continental solution applicable on all African corridors .
An effective regional transit bonding system will need to be supported by a platform enabling the electronic exchange of transit messages between all Customs offices involved in transit operations, as well as the implementation of regional cargo tracking capable of ensuring the integrity of cargo as it moves from origin to destination.
In this regard, the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS) which is already functioning on the Northern Corridor should also be extended to South Sudan and hopefully Central African Republic and Cameroon to ensure a fast” from east to west. the West African coast where goods in transit can move without interruptions or additional costs for traders.