African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina has called for increased investment in regional corridors to boost intra-regional trade and economic integration.
Speaking on the second day of the 2023 Africa Investment Forum (AIF 2023) in Marrakech, Adesina said that the bank had already invested over $2.5bn in regional infrastructure, but that more needed to be done.
“We are financing the development of regional electricity corridors, to assure reliable and competitively priced electricity. AfDB and partners are implementing the $20bn Desert-to-Power initiative to develop 10 GW of solar power across 11 countries of the Sahel zone, including the Sahel regional transmission lines.”
Adesina said that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), when fully operational, offers incredible opportunities for economic integration. However, he noted that these opportunities can only be realized through the development of infrastructure, such as regional corridors.
The AfDB has been a leading investor in regional corridors, financing over $13.5bn in projects over the past seven years. These projects have helped to reduce transport costs, connect landlocked countries to coastal countries, and improve regional trade and competitiveness.
Adesina highlighted several examples of transformative regional corridors that the AfDB has supported, including:
- The Mozambique-Beira corridor transport system, which is helping to reduce transport costs of imports and exports for Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
- The Kazungula Bridge, which connects Botswana and Zambia and contributes to regional connectivity in the North-South Corridor and integration of the Southern African Development Community.
- The Nacala rail and port project in Mozambique, which connects Mozambique and Malawi and strengthens export competitiveness.
- The Senegambia Bridge, which connects Gambia and Senegal and reduces travel time by over 50%.
- The Lagos-Abidjan highway, which connects Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Côte d’Ivoire has attracted investment interest of $15.2bn.
Adesina also announced that the African Development Bank and the Africa Finance Corporation have joined the United States, the European Union, and the governments of Angola, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to develop the strategic Lobito Corridor. This corridor will connect Angola, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, opening linkages to the mines and connecting them to the port in Angola.
Adesina said that to fully optimize the benefits of regional corridors, five priority areas need to be focused on:
- Dedicated pooled financing facilities to support the preparation and development of corridor projects.
- Special industrial zones are to be developed around the corridors to optimize the existing infrastructure.
- A systematic approach and platform to identify and syndicate around the development of strategic regional corridors.
- Establishment of one-stop border posts for trade facilitation and reduction of travel times.
- Concessional financing such as the African Development Fund offers low-income countries unmatched resources to commit to the development of regional corridors.
AfDB President Adesina added by saying that Africa needs to be fully interconnected, using regional corridor infrastructure to unleash economic opportunities and assure competitiveness of national and regional value chains. He called for more investment in regional corridors to make Africa wealthy.
“Well-connected Africa will be a more competitive Africa. Regional corridors are gateways to wealth for Africa. Let’s build more of them! Let’s make Africa wealthy,” AfDB’s Adesina concluded.