Source: Xinhua Updated: 2013/07/18
JOHANNESBURG, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The two-day African infrastructure conference ended here on Wednesday, calling on China and other countries to invest in the continent's infrastructure development.
The conference was attended by governments, captains of industry and the private sector on the African continent.
The African representatives agreed that developing infrastructure will boost the economy in Africa since the superior infrastructure will make it easier for trade and movement of goods between countries.
Infrastructure in Africa is old, poor, dilapidated and absent, which has been viewed as a hindrance to trade and economic development on the continent.
The World Bank in its report said Africa suffers infrastructural deficiency of at least 93 billion U. S. dollars per year.
During the conference, the Africans agreed to work together to improve road, rail, port and other infrastructure projects on the continent.
Addressing the gathering, South African Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba suggested the source of infrastructure funding should come from China, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and Africa.
"To date, China represents Africa's leading trading partner, making up more than a third of Africa's trade. Chinese pragmatism has certainly enabled infrastructure and broader investment in a range of African countries," he said.
The minister told Xinhua that funding should also be sourced from other emerging markets and Europe. "Local funding from bonds and pension funds should also be explored," he added.
Peter Subramaoney, the president of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) said Africa should look at various sources for the funding.
"There should not be any conflict of ideas between government and the private sector. The public-private partnership should enhance recovery to our infrastructure," he said.
"The global landscape is changing and Africa should look to BRICS and also the U.S.. The proposed BRICS development Bank will assist African countries with their infrastructural deficiency," he added.
Most Africans were convinced that there should be skills transfer by investors, so that Africans would be able to maintain infrastructure when the investors are gone.
Sylvester Mashamba, executive director of the National Council for Construction in Zambia, urged other African countries to follow the Zambian example of skills transfer.
"The Chinese are constructing Lusaka stadium and we have Zambian engineers working with the Chinese. When the Chinese are gone, the Zambian engineers will maintain the stadium," Mashamba said.
He also disclosed that they are negotiating with the Chinese to assist in the construction of the railway line in Zambia.
The Zambian deputy high commissioner to South Africa, Joe Kaunda, said they are harmoniously working with the Chinese, while inviting other Africans who are willing to develop infrastructure to approach the Zambian government.
Africans also agreed that intra-African trade can promote the development of infrastructure.
Qedani Mahlangu of the executive committee for infrastructure in Johannesburg, told Xinhua that Africa should accelerate infrastructure growth by even promoting small projects.
"We should improve trade relations among African countries to improve our economies. As (in) South Africa there are small projects like the railway we can work with our neighbors like Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland," Mahlangu said.