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Addressing the first day of the recent Infrastructure Africa Business Forum, The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies says the development of infrastructure is an essential and absolutely fundamental catalyst for regional integration for increased inter-regional trade and for industrialisation in Africa. He added that there was a huge deficit in the infrastructure that is necessary to support high levels of inter-regional trade that connects African countries to one another.

Rob Davies Trade and Industry“As a continent Africa has an infrastructure deficit estimated at $93 billion per annum for the next 20 years. Colonialism has created infrastructure that was only geared towards the continent fulfilling its role as mere producer and exporter of primary commodities that were taken to other people’s economies. There is a huge amount of catch-up that we need to undergo as a continent in order to achieve regional integration,” said Minister Davies.

He explained that in addition to the infrastructure deficit, Africa was losing over 40% of its competitiveness as a continent due to the absence of infrastructure or inefficiency of established infrastructure.

“The critical role of infrastructure development in achieving integration, growth and development in Africa can never be overemphasised. Through infrastructure development we can provide roads, rail, ports, energy transmission lines and ICT connectivity that are all necessary to facilitate economic development. Also, infrastructure can be an important counter-cyclical tool because by infrastructure development we can to generate economic activity even if some of the other forms of economic activities are suffering from the negative waves. Thirdly, we can use infrastructure development to support the industrialisation that we aspire to as individual countries and as regions in the continent.”

According to Minister Davies, regional integration has three legs: Free trade areas, infrastructure development and co-operation. All of these are essential in promoting industrial development across the continent.

“We need to partner to build the required infrastructure and the real capability that will assist all of us build our countries. Adequate, effective, affordable and well-maintained infrastructure is an essential tool for Africa’s growth and development. We as South Africa are committed to doing everything possible to unlock the opportunities as we address the infrastructure deficit on the continent because we recognise the important role that infrastructure can play in the industrialisation of the African continent,” he told delegates.

Image credit: https://www.thedti.gov.za/about_dti/minister.jsp

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