Regional forum charts the way forward.
At the end of September, the East African Community, the Common Market for East and Southern Africa, the Southern Africa Development Authority and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development met to find ways to accomplish infrastructure projects on the continent. Trade between African nations is the lowest in the world, estimated at just 3%, compared with Europe at 62% and 40% in Asia. The problem lies mostly in poor transport and the lack of other vital energy and telecommunication linkages. These make doing business very expensive. According to experts, it costs US$ 1,500 to transport a 20-foot container from Japan to the port of Mombasa, but it costs up to US$ 5,000 for the same container to reach Bujumbura in Burundi. In response, countries in eastern and southern Africa are pushing for joint infrastructure projects under the Aid for Trade initiative, with an emphasis on developing transport corridors. The regional forum is pushing for harmonization of infrastructure master plans by different countries, and is seeking to develop joint financing and implementation mechanisms for infrastructure development.