Gabriel Negatu, Director General of East Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office with AfDB, speaking at the opening of AEC 2018. (Photo by AfDB Group)
By Omer Redi
Kigali, Rwanda December 3, 2018 (IMC):- The African Development Bank (AfDB) is “playing critical roles” in boosting integration among East African countries financing several projects and providing technical supports as peace dividend fosters cooperation, a senior Bank official said on Monday.
As countries in the region have recently stepped up overall collaboration on the back of rapprochement heralding peace, the divided of that will boost economic integration among the countries, Gabriel Negatu, Director General of East Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office with AfDB told Ifriqiyah in an exclusive interview in Kigali.
He mentioned the recent Ethio-Eritrea rapprochement and the subsequent growing trade volume between the two countries as a good example.
“Peace opens the venue for trade; … I was in Asmera recently and I saw the level of trade between Ethiopia and Asmara [Eritrea]. Six months ago, this didn’t exist,” he told IMC on the sidelines the 13th African Economic Conference (AEC 2018) opened today in Kigali, Rwanda.
According to the Director General, the economic dividend of peace is that countries grow opportunities for trade and various forms of economic exchanges.
As the prevailing peace among countries in the region leads to greater cooperation where one country relies on the other’s infrastructure and resources opening up, such as Asseb and Mitsiwa ports in the case of Ethio-Ertrea, AfDB comes in to boost the cooperation and integration.
“Ethiopia is a big country. It needs several ports. As part of this peace and integration, all of these ports will now become available and together the region will prosper as one,” the Director said. “We are supporting the road networks connecting to the ports; next year we are going to upgrade the road to Djibouti [from Ethiopia] and so on. We are going to conduct studies to look at the opportunities of accessing the port of Asseb and Barbara.”
The powerline from Ethiopia to Djibouti that AfDB helped in installing is now likely to be extended further if ongoing discussions involving the Bank on the planned extension finally bear fruit.
“We see the region growing together; through the East African Power Pool we will be able to circulate power across the region...The AfDB will play a critical role in building the hard and soft infrastructure that will make it possible for the region to prosper together,” he added.
The Director also indicated that AfDB is supporting the region through financing as well as knowledge and analytic products in advisory services. Hence, the Bank is closely working with all the regional governments to help them realise these opportunities “so that they can grow together as an integrated region”.
And the rest of Africa can learn from the experience in East Africa that the continent can solve its own problem by itself and reap the economic divided of peace.
The initiative of Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed (PhD), to bring peace and collaboration among countries in the region is a very good example in this regard, according to him. By reaching out to neighbouring nations, Abiy has been able to establish peace amongst all neighbours. That is a precondition for economic growth and integration, he added. “And I think he has successfully completed that process. Today Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa in general is a region at peace with itself, with one another.”
The big lesson for other African countries is “the lesson of peace. And this is peace that didn’t come because the UN or the international community negotiated. No, this is peace that came because Prime Minister Abiy reached out to President of Eritrea,” and other leaders of the region.
Jointly organised by the AfDB, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the AEC 2018 is held from December 3 to 5 under the theme "Regional and Continental Integration for Africa's Development".
It opened Monday morning in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, a country that championed the free movement of persons in Africa - an important precursor for integration - by being the first in the cotinent that allowed visa on arrival to all citizens of African countries.
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