By Spy Uganda Correspondent
EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki is urging African leaders to urgently implement the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) agreement, in order to lower the costs of air transport in Africa and in turn boost development.
Speaking in Nairobi, Kenya, at the 7th Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) week, Dr. Mathuki stated that air cargo currently accounts for only 2% of the global air cargo adding that air transport remains out of reach for both passenger and cargo haulage due to high associated costs.
“These costs can be brought down if we have political commitment to implement the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) agreement,” he noted.
The Secretary General noted that the region continues to ramp up investments in infrastructure to narrow the infrastructure gap and enhance intermodal connectivity.
“These investments have yielded impressive results; for instance, the transit time from Mombasa to Kampala has improved from 20 days in 2010 to an average of 6 days in 2021, with a resultant cost reduction from US$3,500 in 2010 to US$2,200 in 2021,” he noted.
The Secretary General hailed African leaders for prioritizing investment in One-Stop Border Posts (OSBPs), which have facilitated transboundary trade by enhancing border crossing efficiency.
“The use of technology at OSBPs has improved sharing and exchange of information among agencies, enhanced border security, reduced processing times at the border transit times for traders and transporters, and enhanced the reliability of the supply chain through streamlined and harmonised procedures,” he said.
The Secretary General further added that use of technology has enhanced regional competitiveness and led to implementation of initiatives such as the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTs), Single Customs Territory (SCT), and upgrading Customs Management Systems.
On his part, Rt Hon. Raila Odinga, AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development called for the delegates from across the continent to identify new and innovative funding mechanisms amidst limited public resources to fast track the continent’s connectivity.
“Africa needs to create an enabling environment with bankable projects to get funding for infrastructure projects,” he noted.
The Commissioner at the African Union Commission, H.E Amani Abou-Zeid called for a win-win public private partnership and investment for projects that are carefully curated to reflect Africa’s infrastructure priorities from 2021-2030.
The PIDA Week which commenced on 28thFebruary will come to a close on 4th March and aims at bringing together international and regional expertise from multiple stakeholders to deliberate on the issues around infrastructure delivery in Africa, and those related to PIDA.
It will focus on how Africa can lead the way in the delivery of infrastructure in a post-COVID era, supporting the economic and social imperatives of the continent in the digital age.