The East African Community (EAC) and the World Bank today hosted a convention to assess the challenges and opportunities in improving connectivity along key trading corridors to facilitate regional integration in East Africa.
The Integrated Corridor Development convention, held at the UNESCO headquarters, brought together representatives from major bilateral and multi-lateral donor organizations, to discuss solutions to facilitate the funding of corridor development in land-locked countries, such as Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
“In East Africa, high transport costs, poor infrastructure and underdeveloped logistics services limit the competitiveness and inhibit the integration of both the landlocked and transit countries into the regional and global market. Increasing the integration between the different modes of transport through development corridors can significantly improve connectivity and contribute to higher growth in the region,” said Pierre Guislain, senior director for the World Bank’s Transport and ICT Global Practice.
The event comes as a follow up to the third EAC Heads of State retreat on infrastructure development and financing, held in Kenya in November 2014, where EAC leaders endorsed a strategy and action plan to improve the quality of service, and reduce the costs of transport, through developing better links between the different modes of transport along the key trading corridors of the region. The strategy, which the EAC Secretariat was tasked to implement, focuses on improving intermodality for freight transport along the Northern and Central Corridors, from the maritime ports to the inland lakes of Victoria and Tanganyika.
"The EAC views the implementation of the Intermodal Strategy projects as a critical input in the reduction of transport costs in the region,” said Richard Sezibera, Secretary General of the EAC. “The realization of a strong EAC Common Market is predicated on the development of efficient infrastructure in the region. Our partnership with the World Bank, therefore, is greatly appreciated.”
During the convention, development partners and country representatives presented their institutional priorities, and discussed potential collaboration in accelerating the implementation of development corridor projects such as the Lake Victoria and the Lake Tanganyika transport programs. The two programs will require a total investment of US$1.8 billion, of which the World Bank has committed US$850 million to date.
Development partners who participated in the convention included: the European Union, the United Kingdom Department for International Development, JICA, the African Development Bank, the OPEC Fund for International Development, TradeMark East Africa, and the Development Bank of Southern Africa.