Windhoek-Transport is a significant sector in that it reduces transactional costs in enhancing trade. To facilitate infrastructure development, governments promote the expansion and improvement of development corridors. Corridors are the focal point for regional development initiatives. Transport corridors have been around for centuries, but it is only in the last few decades that they have been recognized for what they are and, more importantly, what they can become as well as the value they can add to economic growth. They serve to open up markets and promote increased trade and investment.
With this in mind, leaders of various corridor management institutions (CMIs) from across Africa are joining forces to assist with the development of their cross-border transport corridors. Heads of the CMIs gathered in Walvis Bay, Namibia this week to discuss the architecture of the African Corridor Management Alliance (ACMA).
Hosted by the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG), the meeting brought together heads of several CMIs, representatives from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union Commission (AUC), the Nepad Agency, the African-Export-Import bank (Afrexim Bank) and various other economic integration stakeholders. Among the most prominent CMIs on the continent are the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor, the Northern Corridor that links Mombasa to Kigali and Kampala, the Walvis Bay Corridor with routes to seven southern African countries and the Maputo Corridor connecting Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa.
“The aim of ACMA is to provide the corridor states with lessons and practical tools for the design, capacity development and successful implementation mechanisms for economic corridors,” said Mr Johny Smith who is the Interim Chairperson for ACMA. The alliance was joined by representatives from the ECA and various other integral stakeholders at the inaugural meeting.
In his welcoming address, Namibia’s Permanent Secretary of Works and Transport Willem Goeiemann expressed the government’s support of the establishment of ACMA. He emphasised the importance of ACMA as a vehicle to enhance the growth of trade throughout the continent, and that the alliance is responding to the African Union’s aspiration of boosting intra-Africa trade.
Director of the Capacity Development Division at the ECA, Stephen Karingi, affirmed the notion, saying that an institutionalised platform for a continental dialogue contributes to policy discussions. Stephen Karingi said that Africa is moving towards a more continental view on trade hence the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) . He further pointed out that 2017 is an important year for the continent’s trade agenda. By the end of the year it is expected that the negotiations for the CFTA will be completed.
There is, therefore, a need for ACMA to work closely with the CMIs as a platform for trade facilitation.
The role of economic corridors in promoting transformation and boosting intra-Africa trade has increasingly become important. The corridors themselves are viewed not only as conduits to growth and regional integration but also as engines of regional and local economic development. The initiatives under the economic corridors help create jobs, generate wealth, mobilise public and private resources and stimulate key economic sectors sustainably.
The ACMA secretariat will assist in unbundling, prioritising and sequencing corridor-orientated initiatives into the pipeline of bankable sub-projects, facilitating private sector engagement and addressing issues of enabling environments in collaboration with CMIs in addition to aiding resource mobilisation in collaboration with financing institutions.
The support and collaboration of the regional economic communities (RECs) and the corridor states are vital to not only lead to the success of the undertakings by the alliance, but also to ensure that the ownership of ACMA initiatives is consistent with those of the RECs and the corridor states that are ultimately the beneficiaries.
With effective management, economic corridors will improve physical connectivity between the corridor states, thereby enhancing access to markets, while expanding economies of scale for value chains. Within the framework of the alliance, economic corridors will enhance the productivity and value addition to the endowed natural resources.
The ultimate objective is to enable the expansion of space for production into various sectors of the economies, leading to increased use of local raw materials and opening up access to new investment opportunities. The realisation of economic development through corridor management presupposes that there is a provision of energy, transportation and effective exchange to drive the economic transformation process.