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Euro-African Partnership for infrastructure
Africa needs infrastructure that is essential for its economic growth and its human and social development. Within this context, the Commission is launching a partnership with Africa for the development of large infrastructure networks. This partnership constitutes a key element of the European Union’s strategy for Africa adopted in December 2006.
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 13 July 2007 – Interconnecting Africa: the EU-Africa partnership on infrastructure [COM(2006) 376 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Infrastructure in Africa: state of play
Limited access to transport, telecommunications, and energy and drinking-water services constitutes an important obstacle to reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa. The development of suitable infrastructure and related services will make it possible to increase economic growth and stimulate trade and regional integration.
African transport systems remain underdeveloped, the movement of persons and goods being based essentially on road transport, with its insufficient connections and services. The continent’s energy potential, while high, is not used efficiently. Water resources are unequally distributed and subject to significant seasonal fluctuations; moreover, most of the population does not have access to drinking water and to basic sanitation. Lastly, access to telecommunications services is costly and patchy, with the African digital divide being the highest in the world.
In the 1990s, African governments and European Union (EU) Member States gradually reduced the resources allocated to developing infrastructure in the continent. More investment is therefore needed. The EU intends to pursue the progress that has already been made thanks to cooperation between the Commission, African governments and other donors. For example, the development of trade and regional economic integration have benefited from the improvement of the primary road network and seaports.
A partnership for meeting challenges
Faced with these challenges, the EU is launching a partnership with Africa for the development of large infrastructure networks in the continent. The partnership is based on the EU strategy for Africa and on the objectives defined by the short-term action plan in the field of infrastructure (i-STAP) of the African Union (AU) and NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development).
The partnership is based mainly on infrastructure allowing interconnection at continental and regional level in Africa, namely:
- transport (road and railway networks, ports, maritime and river routes, air transport), in order to reduce costs and improve the quality of services;
- water and sanitation networks, in order to improve the management of water resources at local, national and cross-border basin level, and also access to drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities;
- energy, in order to allow network extension, distribution in rural areas and improvement of cross-border connections;
- information and communication technologies (ICT), to ensure adequate access to affordable technologies by supporting regulatory reform, capacity building and broadband infrastructure development.
The partnership supports physical infrastructure investment, institutional development measures and capacity building, as well as support measures for the political and regulatory framework at national level.
Africa could also benefit from the experience acquired by the EU through the development of Trans-European Networks (TENs) of regional infrastructure, in particular, the methodology for identifying priority projects and the principles for consensus-building on the harmonisation of regulatory frameworks.
Partnership operations are guided by a desire for coherence between investments at continental and regional level and national strategies for the development of infrastructure and combating poverty. The partnership therefore functions at three levels:
- at the continental level, UA-NEPAD coordinates continental and regional priority setting;
- at the regional level, regional indicative programmes support the policy and regulatory frameworks accompanying physical investments;
- at the national level, UA-NEPAD and EU delegations jointly supervise national actions contributing to the achievement of partnership objectives.
The funding of operations under the partnership is based on several instruments:
- the regional and national allocations under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), i.e. €5.6 billion. This amount represents a significant increase in the resources allocated thus far by the EDF to African infrastructures (€3.75 billion under the 9th EDF);
- intra-ACP resources, including those allocated through the energy and water facilities.
- the new fiduciary fund set up by the EU and the European Investment Bank (EIB), aimed at cross-border infrastructure investments in particular. This fund is co-financed by the Commission, the Member States concerned and European and African financial development institutions. During the initial phase (2006-2007), the fund was credited with €87 million, which will be allocated in the form of grants from the Community and Member States, and another €260 million to be allocated in the form of loans by the EIB.
In order to ensure the success of the partnership, effective coordination between the Commission, Member States and other international initiatives and organisations such as the World Bank and the EIB is necessary. This coordination should bolster ownership of projects by beneficiaries, in particular through political commitment by governments to applying good governance in all infrastructure sectors. Private sector participation in the partnership is also encouraged.
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