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The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has outlined a model law on transboundary infrastructure development in Africa. The proposed law provides a means of mitigating and managing the perceived risks associated transboundary infrastructure development and bridges the gap between social and private benefits of such huge investments.

According to Adeyinka Adeyemi, Senior Advisor and Head of the Regional Integration and Infrastructure Cluster in the ECA’s Capacity Development Division, the ECA has conducted a comprehensive study of risks that pertain to investment in transboundary infrastructure in Africa, and the proposed law provides a means of mitigating and managing those risks as well as bridging the gap between social and private benefits of such huge investments.

“The main challenges that have emerged from experts and potential investors were the plethora of policies, laws and regulations which inhibit private sector investment and curb its enthusiasm. Now we have developed a continent-wide model law to enhance investment in transboundary infrastructure at the request of African leaders and we hope this will go a long way in dealing with the specific risks that were hindering investment in transboundary infrastructure in Africa,” he says.

The law is expected to be adopted by African Heads of State at their January Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Adeyemi says there is high level political support and enthusiasm for transboundary infrastructure in Africa, and the law will also facilitate private sector investment and financing.

New law for transboundary infrastructure development proposedThe Minister of Finance in Zambia, Felix Mutati, has lauded the proposed law, stating that African governments should create a conducive environment in their respective countries that will generate appetite among the private sector to invest in infrastructure projects in the continent.

“I have no doubt that despite the daunting challenges that we experience as a continent when it comes to addressing the infrastructure deficit, we shall overcome if governments are working effectively together with the private sector. But it is important for the government to define its role clearly. The role of government must remain to provide a business environment that creates confidence and trust, as well as opportunities for the private sector to invest in infrastructure development,” Mutati told delegates at the recent two-day Infrastructure Africa Business Forum.

“The role of government must remain to provide a business environment that creates confidence and trust, as well as opportunities for the private sector to invest in infrastructure. Government should not monopolise investment in infrastructure but should make it its responsibility and priority to remove the burden that is created by bureaucracy on the private sector,” he added.

“It is crucial for government to generate mechanisms and instruments aimed at enhancing the appetite of the private sector to invest in infrastructure development projects. These include credit enhancement and credit contingency guarantees which should go a long way in minimising the level of risks. The private and public sectors should share these risks for the benefit of all in the continent.”

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