By G9ija

Nigeria and its neighbours can meet the $170b infrastructure gap through regional funding collaboration, experts said on Wednesday.

African leaders and other stakeholders met at the 2019 Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week, holding in Cairo, Egypt.

The financing required to meet the gap is estimated to be between $68billion and $108 billion.

Key players in the infrastructure sector noted that enhanced partnerships between the public and private sectors on the continent will meet development needs.

They agreed that economic activities and competitiveness have been hampered by inadequate transport, communication, water and power infrastructure.

No fewer than 700 delegates from across the continent and beyond are attending the event.

Its theme is: Positioning Africa to deliver on Agenda 2063 and economic integration through multi-sectoral approaches to infrastructure development”

The assistant Foreign Minister for the African Organisations and Communities, Ambassador Khaled Emara, noted that the lack of infrastructure was an obstruction to regional economic growth.

He said there was a need to expedite infrastructure development projects to achieve the 2063 development agenda.

Emara, who is Egyptian President’s Representative to the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), said the world was eager to do business with Africa “but finds it difficult to access the continent due to poor infrastructure”.

African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Dr Amani Abou-Zeid said the PIDA Week was an important platform to evaluate the continent’s achievements and challenges in infrastructure development.

The commissioner said there was the need for Africa to attract private investments and utilise pension and sovereign funds to develop the much-needed infrastructure.

The Prime Prime Minister of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Dr Mostafa Madbouly, in his keynote speech delivered by Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Dr Mohamed Shaker El-Markab, believes the implementation of the African Development Agenda 2063 is based on infrastructure.

This, he said, will attract investment and promote intra-African trade to achieve the regional and economic integration that African countries and people aspire to.

African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) Chief Executive Officer Dr Ibrahim Mayaki said PIDA and its associated instruments have enabled the continent to make remarkable progress in infrastructure reconstruction, rehabilitation and development.

According to him, “borders are fading more and more, contributing to building stronger ties between countries through trade, and therefore making them see the economic costs of war with their neighbouring countries”.

PIDA, he said, “humbly contributes to foster peace and change the landscape of Africa”.

The AU-NEPAD CEO, however, warned that more work has to be done.

Mayaki said as part of the infrastructural gap, the African Development Bank estimates that more than 640 million Africans have no access to energy, giving an electricity access rate for African countries at just over 40 per cent — the world’s lowest.

“Per capita consumption of energy in Sub- Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) is 180 kWh, against 13,000 kWh per capita in the United States and 6,500 kWh in Europe.

“This is not another conference, not another ordinary week. This is for you participants a place to own and significantly contribute to change the lives of millions of Africans.

“As this responsibility has been bestowed upon us, we shouldn’t take this lightly when we engage in the various sessions throughout the week.”

Since its inception in 2015, PIDA Week has evolved as a flagship advocacy and marketing event.

PIDA was formed to drive Africa’s aspirations for infrastructure development in line with the Agenda 2063.