ABUJA, Nigeria, May 6 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged the private sector to exploit investment opportunities in the infrastructure sector to bridge the deficit in the continent.
He said resources from the private sector could supplement Governments’ efforts and accelerate infrastructure projects, adding that the rewards would not merely be commercial but also radically transform ordinary
“The infrastructure gap also requires dedicated financing mechanisms if it is to be bridged,” President Kenyatta said.
The President spoke in Abuja, Nigeria, at the Africa Investor CEO Infrastructure Investment Summit – a premier business development forum for infrastructure investors, fund managers, project developers, project sponsors and Public Private Partnership policy makers.
President Kenyatta also called on African countries to embrace a regional approach in infrastructure development.
He said the said the approach would help the continent by cutting the costs of infrastructure projects through economies of scale.
“It is therefore vital to promote regional and cross-border infrastructure as it increases trade, improves security, saves money, strengthens natural resource management, addresses the needs of landlocked countries, and builds on national and regional comparative advantage,” President Kenyatta said.
In East African, President Kenyatta said deliberate priority has been given to the development of key regional transport corridors that in turn support trade and investment.
He said some of the infrastructure projects in the region are poised to benefit from the Africa 50 Fund, including the rehabilitation and expansion of the Northern Corridor connecting the port of Mombasa with Kampala, Kigali, Bujumbura and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Other priority regional projects, the President said, include rehabilitation of the Central Corridor connecting Dar-es-Salaam with Bujumbura, Kigali, and DRC.
In addition, the Head of State said the LAPPSET project – where Kenya is seeking partnership with the private sector to jointly build a highway, an oil pipeline, a railway line and a seaport at Lamu connecting the new Republic of South Sudan and Ethiopia – holds great investment potential.
“These are only some of the ambitious projects that we have embarked on in the region. In East Africa, we are backing our words with deeds,” the President said.
The President emphasised that infrastructure development is critical for economic growth and poverty reduction.
“In Africa, infrastructure can potentially contribute as much as two percent per year to Gross Domestic Product, with particularly positive effects in East and Central Africa,” the President said.
Acknowledging the need to fill the infrastructure gap in the continent, President Kenyatta said the African Union Heads of State and Government endorsed the creation of a dedicated funding mechanism to accelerate infrastructure delivery in Africa.
He said the African Development Bank is spearheading the establishment of the new fund – the Africa 50 Fund – to mobilize private sector funding to accelerate the rate of infrastructure delivery in Africa.
“In the long-term, it will look to gather support for infrastructure from international capital markets. It is, in short, a strong statement of Africa’s readiness to address the infrastructure,” the President said.
During the event, the President received an award in recognition of his commitment to infrastructure development.