Infrastructure a burden to Intra-African Trade, Raila

By Taban Henry

The former Prime Minister of Kenya and the High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, Raila Omolo Odinga is saying that infrastructure is the main impediment to the Intra-African Trade.

Raila was speaking on the inaugural ceremony of the long-awaited Freedom Bridge in Juba on Thursday.

The former Kenyan Premier was invited by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir to come and witness the inauguration of the Freedom Bridge.

The construction of Freedom Bridge commenced in 2013, and then the work was suspended three times due to conflict in December 2013 and July 2016, in addition to COVID-19 outbreak in the beginning of the year 2020.

Omolo Odinga in his statement said that though infrastructure has been the major setback in the Intra-African Trade, the presence of the Freedom Bridge would open access points for South Sudan businesses to the port of Mombasa and Lamu.

“It has been said that the African trade has little for itself, Intra-African trade stands at 15% whereas Intra-European trade stands at 70%, Intra-Asian trade stands at 50% and Intra-South American trade stands at 25%,” Odinga said.

In addition, the invitee said that inception of Freedom Bridge is the call to answer call for access by traders.

He stated that the bridge will connect the landlocked country to the port of Mombasa, regional and global market.

The AU high level Representative for Infrastructure stressed that the bridge is an important guarantor to the trade and economic development of South Sudan to East African Community.

“Between 2013-2017 the annual funding for infrastructure in Africa rose to 77% billion Dollars for 36 billion quarter for the first century to the West and East African are particularly been in resurgent in this aspect,” he said.

However, the Freedom Bridge inaugural guest stated that, African governments have subsequently increased their spending on infrastructures which now stands at 42%, though there has been talks of foreign particularly the Chinese investment in the African.

He mentioned that the African government is making permanent commitment to pursue infrastructure as a pillar of the continental trade and integrity agenda.

“The completion of the Freedom Bridge confirms Japans commitment on the resolution 5 top international conference on African development held in Yokohama Japan in June 2013,” he said.

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