Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu says that South Africa will be highlighting the importance of infrastructure development on the continent at the African Union (AU) Summit taking place in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia later this week.

South Africa has been at the helm of the AU’s Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative, which is aimed at promoting priority development projects.

Mthembu says as incoming AU Chair, President Cyril Ramaphosa will be ramping up the need for infrastructure as the lifeblood to continental development and integration.

“We are in charge of over 15 or so corridors throughout the length and breadth of Africa from Algeria, Nambia, you name it, Egypt. All these corridors that are meant not only to ensure that we have the African Trade Area, but also that we have roads that lead people to the African Trade Area and that is what we are championing.”

Mthembu says that Ramaphosa will be pushing for South Africa to host a High-Level Forum on Infrastructure in 2020 in which the proposals for funding across the continent may be tabled.

“Linked to this summit on infrastructure that we will hold in 2020, therefore there is a possibility that the Heads of States indeed may agree that why don’t we create an Africa-wide infrastructure fund so that all of us do not pay lip service to infrastructural development in our continent but indeed there are means to ensure that there is infrastructure development.'”

Head of South African Electrotechnical Export Council Chiboni Evans says the African continent has come far in developing infrastructure.

Speaking in an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Evans highlighted the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in Mozambique and the Lapsset project in East Africa as some of the successes in infrastructure development in Africa.

Through the LNG project, a floating storage and regasification unit will be moored in the harbour of Maputo and then connected to a new gas power plant nearby and South Africa’s gas network.

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The Lapsset project is the largest project in East Africa, which involves railway, a highway, a crude oil pipeline and a fiber-optic cable connecting Kenya with Ethiopia, Uganda and South Sudan.

“The good thing about that is the way that the Lapsset project owners have dealt with the project. As far as possible, they have used African expertise to help with the project,” says Evans.

As South Africa prepares to head the AU, Evans says the aim should be holistic growth of the African continent.

“One of the things that we really need to start doing is to start, not looking just at the growth of South Africa in isolation, but the growth of South Africa as part of the African continent because if we don’t grow the economies around us, South Africa will not be able to grow. One of the things that we have done as South Africa quite successfully, in 2016, the Department of Trade and Industry launched a unit called Trade Invest Africa and the key thing about Trade and Invest is that investment is also in skills and knowledge transfer.” – additional reporting by Lerato Matlala and Busisiwe Chimombe