Invest on infrastructure, Raila Odinga tells African nations

ODM leader Raila Odinga

Raila Odinga. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

 The African Union (AU) High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, Raila Odinga is calling on African Nations to invest in infrastructure as a lifeblood of economic recovery post Covid-19.

The ODM leader also underscored the need for African nations to safeguard democracy as a way of creating stability and predictability on the continent.

"The Africa we are trying to build cannot be realized if the continent returns to the primitive era of military coups and dictatorships. I therefore want to encourage the AU to be firm in its defense of democracy on the Continent," Mr Odinga said in his address at the spotlight on Africa expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arabs Emirates (UAE) on Sunday.

He said that as the continent steadily moves from lockdown to living with the pandemic, it is imperative that Africa takes bold actions to underpin relief, reform, and recovery.

"With regard to infrastructure, Africa must see this as its Roosevelt Moment; the moment for the continent to invest in opening the arteries of transportation, of movement of goods and people; the moment to invest in infrastructure as a lifeblood of economic recovery," Mr Odinga said.

He went on: "I believe this is the time for us to join hands and actualize the idea we have been exploring, of a special African Infrastructure Fund to complement other efforts such as the NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility."

He noted that the recovery programme must build strongly on the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The dream of enabling free movement of goods, he noted, will not be fully realised unless it is accompanied by freer, easier and cheaper movement of people as well.

"That calls for faster ratification of the AU’s Continental Free Movement Protocol by all, and, more importantly, for investment in infrastructure," said the former Prime Minister.

He pointed out that it was time to complete the bridges and highways to connect African countries and tap into its markets.

"It is the time to improve our Airports and runways and keep our people flying and our international partners landing."

"It is the time to put resources into power lines and take light where there is mostly darkness on the continent," the ODM leader who is on a week-long working tour of UAE noted.

He at the same time observed that African nations need to accept that even without the pandemic, Africa long needed to adjust investment in infrastructure to match its growing population.

"Africa’s population is rising fast. The middle class is growing too. This means more cars on the narrow roads, more passengers at overwhelmed airport lounges and possibly more flight delays."

"Unless we decongest and secure our airports, make our roads and railways efficient, safe and user friendly, make our airlines professional and cost effective, unless we have cheap and reliable electricity and internet, we will not be able to position the continent as a place for investment as envisioned in Agenda 2063 and we will not secure high profile strategic partnerships to build the Africa we want," noted Mr Odinga.

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