Transport key to continental integration, says minister
Intercontinental integration is not feasible without transport playing a critical and strategic role in ensuring that African countries are linked through roads, railway lines, shipping routes and air transport connections, says Deputy Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga.
Speaking at the Cross-Border Road Transport Agency Indaba, in Pretoria, on Wednesday, the Minister highlighted regional economic integration as an “essential mechanism” when it comes to connecting Africans at an economic, social and cultural level.
She noted that, while most regional integration initiatives aim to connect Africa’s physical infrastructure, it is important to draw attention to often neglected aspects of continental integration, such as governing cross-border transport flows, managing cross-border roadtransport constraints, and developing harmonised cross-border transport management regimes across the continent.
Chikunga highlighted the uniqueness of the African Union’s Linking Africa Plan, adding that it seeks to answer questions beyond the physical barriers that are constraining continental integration.
Addressing trade and transport regulatory issues, the Linking Africa Plan is concerned with trade and transport regulatory issues and highlights the need for the private and public sectors to work together to address various issues affecting players across the entire value chain,
“The Linking Africa Plan [appreciates] that transporting persons, goods and services from one country to another requires adherence and compliance with the rules, regulations, standards and requirements of the various countries that embody the continent’s different regions,” highlighted Chikunga.
With this in mind, she noted that several joint committee meetings held between South Africa and neighbouring countries revealed the consensus that operators within the Southern African Development Community feel that overly burdensome regulation can create barriers to cross-border investment and trade, as does the absence of a clear, transparent regulatory environment.
With this in mind, she noted, governments needed to consider regulation as key when it comes to influencing private investors’ decisions on whether to invest in the markets that the continent seeks to promote.