The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) signed in Lusaka on Thursday, 24 February 2011, a protocol agreement for a USD 8.625-million grant to finance the COMESA Airspace Integration project
The agreement was signed by AfDB Zambia Field Office Resident Representative, Freddie Kwesiga and the COMESA Secretary-General, Sindiso Ngwenya, two days after COMESA signed an agreement with Rwanda to host the project management unit in Kigali.
The main objective of the US$ 9.075-million project is to deepen regional integration through creating a unified single air space control framework. In accordance with the ongoing effort for enhanced regional integration, the project has been adopted as a priority for the EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite.
Some of the project's expected outcomes are:
An enabling legal and regulatory framework for a unified upper airspace in the COMESA Region,
An adequate institutional framework for providing and regulating regional Air Traffic Services, and
Conclusion of the public private partnership arrangements to finance, build and operate the regional Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Systems for Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) infrastructure.
Commending the AfDB for its focus and commitment towards the development of key regional economic infrastructure, Mr. Ngwenya noted that over the last five years, the Bank had invested over US$ 5 billion towards the development of major road transport infrastructure within the region, including the famous Cape to Cairo highway.
He said that the project will contribute significantly to improving the efficiency and economies of scale for airspace management and operations within the COMESA region.
Mr. Ngwenya reiterated the EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite's continued commitment, cooperation and support to AfDB activities in Eastern and Southern Africa.
For his part, Mr. Kwesiga thanked COMESA for fast-tracking the fulfillment of the conditions required for the project's effectiveness which includes signing of the host country agreement with Rwanda. He indicated that the Bank will work very closely with COMESA to ensure timely and effective execution of the project activities.
Mr. Kwesiga also commended COMESA for its professionalism and commitment towards the wider regional integration agenda. He informed that due to its increasing relevance within Bank activities, regional operations attracted an increase in resource allocation during the recently concluded ADF-XII replenishment exercise.
The Resident Representative said that over the period 2000-2009 alone, the Bank invested over US$ 12 billion in the COMESA region, the bulk of which went to individual member countries; in the areas of economic and social infrastructure (transport, energy, ICT, water and sanitation), agriculture, education, health, and capacity building.