NEPAD Webinar: Participants Advocate Accelerated Actions On African High Speed Rail Project
Participants at the webinar on the African High Speed Railway Project yesterday called on African Union and leaders of the continent to fast track implementation of the high speed rail to support the ongoing continental free trade zone.
The webinar moderated by Mr Olawale Rasheed of the African Railway Roundtable And facilitated by the Project Advisor, Mr Louis Napo Gnagbe was organised by the New Partnership for African Development Agency (NEPAD-AUDA) with top railway and infrastructure leaders on the continent particpating.
Mr Raila Odinga, the AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa who chaired the event challenged the continent to walk the talk ,stressing that if Europe and Nprth America could transform their railway system the time they did, Africa can even do better now.
Odinga who noted the many railway developments across Africa said the continent has spent too much time on planning ,stressing that now is the time to hit the ground running as the world will not wait any longer.
Citing the new free trade zone,AFCTA, the AU High Representative said transport logistics and interconnectivity are critical to the success of the project,decrying the very low connectivity among Africans due to poor transport connection.
The Director of Infrastructure and Energy at the AU Commission, Mr Cheikh Bedda in his overview noted the strategic importance of the high speed rail to Africa’s developmwnt , informing the participants that the commission is set to push ahead with the implementation process.
While noting the distruption occassional by the pandemic, Bedda said the commission leadership is committed to transforming the pandemic into opportunity, stressing that the commission is open to credible collaboration and partnership to make the project a reality.
Among the many recommendations of the Webinar was the need to launch implementation of the high speed project after the design amd planning issues have been sorted out. Other takeaways include the need to possibly shorten the implementation timetable,fast tracking of ratification of the Luxembourg protocol for rolling stock acquisition, engagement with African private sector, the need to create African Railway standard,enforcement of localisation to boost job creation and the urgent need to explore internal financing through sovereign wealth and pension fund among others.
Present at the event was the Minister of Railway Development for Ghana, Hon Joe Ghartey.
Other speakers at the event include M.Joster Imbuchi (Overview of African High-Speed Railway Project);M.Hanief Ebrahi,the Head Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative, Presidency of South Africa; M. Chiheb Ben Ahmed, CEOSNCFT, Tunisian Railways and Chairman of African Railways Union; M. Said CHANDIi,Director ONCF and UIC Africa (Morocco: Example of Morocco, the first African country to have a High-Speed Train inaugurated in 2018)
Other speakers include Ms Mesela Nhlapo Executive Secretary, South African Railroad Association (The Place of Private Sector in African High Speed Railway Projects);M. Jean-Pierre Loubinou×, Honorary Director General UIC/Honorary chairman of Association of French rail Engineers (Vision UIC 2040/ The High-Speed in Africa); Rowland Ataguba, Principal Consultant/MD,Bethlehem Rail Infrastructure Limited,London, UK (Options and Conditions to Fast track African High-Speed Railway Projects); M. Younes Touitha, PIDA infrastructure Expert (Trans-Maghreb Train) and M. Soteri Gatera,Industrialization Manager, UNECA(Rolling stock financing).