Several senior officials from international financial institutions are expected to attend the North-South Corridor Conference next month in Lusaka at which donors are expected to pledge over US$ 2 billion for regional infrastructure development.
Senior officials expected include World Bank vice president for Africa, Obiageli Ezekwesili, African Development Bank president, Donald Kaberuka, European Investment Bank president, Philippe Maystadt and deputy chair for African Union, Erastus Mwencha.
World Trade Organisation director, Pascal Lamy, is also expected to attend the high level North-South corridor conference to be held from April 6 to 7.
Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry, Felix Mutati said the conference would also attract 20 trade ministers from the Eastern and Southern African countries, including two commissioners from the European Commission.
Mr Mutati said the aim of the North-South corridor programme was to develop and connect infrastructure like roads, railways, border facilitates, weigh bridges and energy generation in the region.
Mr Mutati said this in an interview in Lusaka adding that the North-South Corridor was a pilot aid-for-trade programme, which was a joint Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Eastern Africa Community (EAC) and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) initiative.
He said the objective of the conference was to secure donor commitment, international financial institutions and the private sector to finance the removal of infrastructure constraints that hamper progress in realising more trade, higher economic growth and poverty reduction.
He said the meeting would also attract private sector representation from the region and locally.
He said cost for the North- South corridor and financing structure had been developed.
Mr Mutati said over US $2 billion was required to finance infrastructure needs of the corridor.
“One key thing is to connect infrastructure to facilitate speedy movement of goods and people. The project will also simplify and harmonise customs procedures and legislation in the region,” he said.
Mr Mutati said the project was also looking at trade facilitation measures such as harmonisation of information technology systems and electronic customs management systems, harmonisation of axle load and vehicle dimensions of road transit charges regulations and carrier licenses.
He said the rationale was to have an integrated approach to resolving the problems faced by countries relating to the cost of doing business and ultimately contribute to enhancing the economic growth and development of Africa.
[Zambia Daily Mail]