JOHANNESBURG– The development of infrastructure is essential for Africa’s growth and development and is an essential and fundamental catalyst for regional integration, says South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

As the government of South Africa, we categorically stated that the development of infrastructure is an essential and absolutely fundamental catalyst for regional integration for increased inter-regional trade and for industrialisation in Africa,” he added when opening the Infrastructure Africa Business Forum in Sandton, Johannesburg, Monday,

“Therefore, infrastructure development lies in the very heart of our efforts to promote high levels of inclusive growth and development throughout the continent.”

Davies also spoke of a deficit in the infrastructure needed to support high levels of inter-regional trade connecting African countries with one another. As a continent, Africa has an infrastructure deficit estimated at 93 billion US dollars per annum for the next 20 years.” he said.

“Colonialism has created infrastructure that was only geared towards the continent fulfilling its role as mere producer and exporter of primary commodities that were taken to other people’s economies. There is a huge amount of catch-up that we need to undergo as a continent in order to achieve regional integration.”

He explained that in addition to the infrastructure deficit, Africa was losing more than 40 per cent of its competitiveness as a continent because of the absence of infrastructure or bnecause of the inefficiency of established infrastructure.

The critical role of infrastructure development in achieving integration, growth and development in Africa can never be overemphasised. Through Infrastructure development we can provide roads, rail, ports, energy transmission lines and ICT connectivity that are all necessary to facilitate economic development, said Davies.

Regional integration, he added, went hand in hand with free trade areas, infrastructure development and co-operation which are essential in promoting industrial development across the continent. We need to partner (one another) to build the required infrastructure and the real capability that will assist all of us build our countries,” he said.

“Adequate, effective, affordable and well-maintained infrastructure is an essential tool for Africa’s growth and development.

South Africa are committed to doing everything possible to unlock the opportunities as we address the infrastructure deficit in the continent because we recognize the important role that infrastructure can play in the industrialisation of the African continent.”