The Second Ordinary Session of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Transport, Transcontinental Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism (STC-TTIET) took place this week from April 14-18, in Cairo. The meeting was organized by the African Union Commission in collaboration with the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt to consider strategies for developing smart infrastructure to boost Africa’s continental transformation and integration. The meeting was attended by 38 member states and regional economic communities, regional and continental institutions, and international organizations. An experts’ meeting on Sunday and Monday (April 14-15) preceded the ministerial meeting which considered and adopted the recommendations presented by the experts. Mrs Dagmawit Moges, Minister of Transport, led the Ethiopian delegation to the meeting which observed a minute’s silence for the lives lost in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 to Nairobi on March 10.
The meeting considered the nexus between transport, energy and tourism and its relevance for Agenda 2063 and implementing the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). Taking note of the progress made in establishment of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), the meeting affirmed the need for an overall continental transport policy. With regard to the transcontinental and interregional infrastructure, it took note of the implementation status of PIDA, the Plans of Action of the STC-TTIIET of PIDA and recommended member states to ensure strong ownership of PIDA’s Priority Action Plan projects and include them in their national budgets and plans. It further recommended member states to increase local employment opportunities through an integrated multi-sectoral corridor approach.
Concerning the energy sector, the meeting considered the outcome of the First Meeting of the STC Sub-Committee on Energy, held in March last year in Nouakchott [Mauritania]. It took note of the progress made in the implementation of the AU Commission’s program on bio-energy development in Africa as well as the progress achieved by the African Energy Commission in developing the African Energy Information System and making it available for use by member states, RECs [Renewable Energy Certificates] and specialized institutions. The meeting recommended that member states provide support to the implementation of the AU Commission Initiatives on five programs.
On tourism, the meeting noted the AU Agenda 2063 ten-year implementation plan and the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the inclusion of tourism; AU Development Agency and NEPAD tourism action plans and the 2014 Seychelles tourism communiqué; the Morocco 2016 African Charter on Sustainable and Responsible Tourism and the Declaration on Tourism and Climate issues in Africa; as well as the challenges facing tourism development in the continent. It requested that the AU Commission undertake a feasibility study for the establishment of an African tourism body to speed up tourism development across the continent. It also encouraged the AU Commission to support the strengthening of tourism infrastructure with adequate resources and to effectively link it with the transport and energy sector considerations.
The meeting concluded urging member states, the African Union Commission and Regional Economic Communities to strengthen intra-African and continental cooperation in the infrastructure sectors. It urged member states to mainstream climate change into infrastructure planning and implementation. It appealed to member states to formulate harmonized policies and regulations for infrastructure development to create local jobs particularly for the youth; to strengthen African Small and Medium Enterprises and ensure technology transfer through vocational training. It called for member states to speed up ratification of pending legal instruments related to infrastructure, including the Maritime Charter, the Single African Air Transport Market, and the AFREC Convention and Road Safety Charter. It also called on key regional and international partners including the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa the World Bank and the European Union, to continue to support the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa.
In her remarks to the meeting, Transport Minister Mrs Dagmawit Moges expressed her thanks for the tribute paid by AU Member States over the lives lost on March 10. She took the opportunity to express the deep condolences of the Ethiopian people and of herself to the peoples and governments of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe for the lives lost and properties destroyed by Cyclone Idai.
Minister Dagmawit noted investment in the transport, energy and tourism infrastructure was a crucial component of Africa’s accelerated growth and sustainable development. These sectors had great potential to create jobs, generate income and enhance economic development. Some of the flagship projects towards realizing Agenda 2063 were key components of these sectors; however, they were still not properly contributing their fair share of the continent’s development and growth. It was important to put in place the necessary structural, institutional, legal, financial and human resources, she said. Minister Dagmawit pointed out that Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan were part and parcel of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063, and the Plan was giving special focus to the development of these sectors in a bid to accelerate growth and serve as a vehicle towards continental integration. She stressed that the Plan mainstreamed gender and women and youth, which she said, were at its heart, noting also that Small and Medium Enterprises were important engines of development for low income families and groups. In addition, the private sector had an irreplaceable role in the GTP, and Ethiopia was now in process of privatizing telecom and airlines services to speed up development and growth. Overall, the transport, energy and tourism sectors contribute immensely to GDP, she said, and “if we double our efforts, the revenue they generate will impact our growth and development significantly.”
The Minister said Ethiopia’s determination to encourage and support the establishment of the Single African Air Transport Market, and the full realization of PIDA and AUDA/NEPAD programs and plans of action, was a testimony to its commitment to Africa’s integration. She noted Ethiopia had just ratified and deposited the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement with a view to enhancing continental integration. In conclusion, Minister Dagmawit assured the meeting that Ethiopia would do everything in its capacity to strengthen inter-African cooperation in the transport, energy and tourism infrastructure sectors. The journey might not be smooth or easy, and immense challenges remained, but “with the necessary political will and commitment there is no doubt that we will meet the demands of our peoples.”Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, London, UK.