CAIRO, Sept. 27, 2010 — Cairo today hosted the first technical meetingof Regulators for MENA Region’s Infrastructure Regulatory Forum to enableregulators to share information and best practices, discuss the recentinfrastructure developments in the region, and identify ways to overcomeinfrastructure challenges in MENA.
The one-day meeting wasjointly organized by the Public-Private Partnerships Infrastructure Facility(PPIAF) and the World Bank, in cooperation with the Egyptian Electric Utilityand Consumer Protection Agency (EGYPTERA).
This Technical Meeting,which brings together a group of infrastructure regulators from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UnitedArab Emirates and West Bank and Gaza, builds on the discussion of the MENAConference on Infrastructure Reform and Regulation held in Amman last year.
In the MENA Region,strong demography and rapid urbanization combined with structuraltransformation of the economies have resulted in strong demands forinfrastructure services that most governments in the region struggle to copewith. A good illustration of the inability to cope with growing infrastructuredemands is the electricity sector, whereby the installed generation capacity isestimated to be 20 percent below the aggregate demand for electricity acrosscountries in MENA.
“While MENA countriesneed to increase investments in infrastructure, the World Bank stands ready towork with governments in the region, through its lending and non lendingactivities, to address their infrastructure challenges,” said David Craig, the World BankCountry Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti at the meeting’s opening session.
The Arab World Initiative, launched in 2007 by World Bank President Robert Zoellick, aims atpromoting integration within the Middle East and North Africa region andincreasing its links with regional and global partners.
“Infrastructure development is at the center of this initiative, encompassing regional infrastructure projects; activities aimed at enhancing the harmonization ofnorms and standards; knowledge-sharing and capacity building,” he added.
However, there are someconsiderable challenges for MENA in moving the infrastructure agenda forward. Robust and transparentlegal and regulatory frameworks will be necessary to deliver the policyprogrammes and new institutions and capacity required to implement them.
“However, cooperationamong infrastructure regulators, dialogue and the experience-exchange can promote the adoption of common rules, norms and standards, leading to moreharmonized regulatory frameworks, the development of common models of privatesector participation, and can strengthen trade links and regional integration,” said Paul Noumba Um, LeadEconomist at the Sustainable Development Department of the MENA Region, theWorld Bank.
The Cairo meeting willprimarily discuss the following issues: 1) the primary objective of the MENAForum of Regulators; 2) the members; 3) how the Forum should be implemented andfinanced; 4) the immediate next steps. The meeting aims to reach consensus onthe need to establish an Infrastructure Regulatory Forum in the Middle East andNorth Africa as other parts of the world have done.