African leaders committed to boosting infrastructure, says Zuma

3 Feb 14
Removing barriers that hold up infrastructure development across Africa is a priority for the continent’s leaders, according to South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma.

By Vivienne Russell | 3 February 2013

Removing barriers that hold up infrastructure development across Africa is a priority for the continent’s leaders, according to South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma.

Speaking following a high-level conference on the economic outlook for Africa, Zuma said that the lack of access to trade-enabling infrastructure remained a fundamental challenge.

He and his fellow Africa Union leaders had discussed the issue at length at the Bloomberg-hosted conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

‘We recommitted ourselves as Africa heads of state to continue building cross-border infrastructure, to unlock growth and development in our continent,’ he said.

‘In addition to a focus on trade-enabling infrastructure we are intensifying our continental integration efforts through the negotiation of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement. We have made considerable progress in the negotiations, which aim to integrate 26 countries and eastern and southern Africa. This involves a population of nearly 600 million people and a combined gross domestic product of $1 trillion.’

Meanwhile, South Africa’s public enterprise minister has spoken of plans to increase the country’s rail network. As well as the replacement of 6,405 km of track, existing routes are being expanded and new ones established, Malusi Gigaba said. Over the next five years, 1,317 new locomotives and 25,000 new wagons will be procured.

‘We will be able to increase our exports of coal by over 50%. Our ability to move general freight on rail will have more than doubled in capacity and [South Africa’s logistics company] Transnet’s container handling capacity will increase by 75%,’ he said.

‘The dramatic increase in our rail infrastructure will have a positive impact on our roads and will reduce the burden carried by many roads,' he said.

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