South African intervention at the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee: July 24, 2010 (Kampala)

Thank you Chairperson

Let me begin by the thanking the Ugandan Government for the excellent and warm hospitality extended to my delegation since our arrival in this country and beautiful resort.

Every time I have been to this country, I am touched by the friendliness of the Ugandan people and their humility.

I also wish to extend South Africa’s (and my own) condolences to the Government and people of Uganda for the loss of innocent lives in the recent terrorist bombing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims.

Terrorism is an evil that the international community must work together for its eradication.
As South Africa, we remain committed to continuing to discharge our responsibility – individually as a country and as part of the international community – to combat terrorism in all its manifestations.

The fact that this terrorist attack happened at the height of the FIFA World Cup festivity – when the entire world’s attention was on our continent – is an indication that the perpetrators of this horrible act are the enemies of Africa.

NEPAD was conceived, Chairperson, to combat Afro-pessimism and advance the socio-development of our continent.

We have always emphasized that the achievement of our goal of the development of Africa will also depend on how well we do in eradicating conflicts on our continent.

During our Summit in Sirte in July 2009, we commended the review of the AU/NEPAD Africa Action Plan undertaken jointly by the AU Commission, the NEPAD Secretariat, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. 

Our endorsement of (seventy-nine) 79 flagship programmes and projects outlined in the Africa Action Plan was aimed in particular at advancing regional and continental integration. 

A year earlier, at our AU Summit in 2008, we emphasised that the Africa Action Plan must remain the basis for Africa’s engagement with all Africa’s international cooperating partners. 

Whilst the Africa Action Plan will remain Africa’s broad NEPAD programme and project approach, the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), is being designed as an overarching infrastructure action plan. 

We agreed that the Africa Action Plan must remain the basis for our engagement with all our international cooperating partners. However, in Africa itself we have not prioritised the plan in terms of its implementation. 

We are aware that the primary responsibility for implementing the Africa Action Plan lies with national governments, specifically in terms of sponsoring and promoting cross-border infrastructure projects.  Without sponsorship by national governments, the secretariats of the regional economic communities will not be able to make progress. 

President Wade has been one of the vocal advocates on utilising the Heads of State and Government to champion specific sectoral priorities on NEPAD. This idea was mooted in the early days of the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee but did not gain the necessary momentum for a number of reasons.  We have been thinking multi-sectorally in our work on infrastructure, but we have not acted multi-sectorally. 

What we need to remedy the situation is a dedicated focus on each of the sectors of our infrastructure programme. You will recall that we identified priority infrastructure projects in the following sectors: roads and rail, energy security, water and sanitation, ICT and telecommunication, and food security.

Our view is that we have too many priority projects.  We should rethink these many projects into five high-impact, deliverable projects that will serve as catalysts not only for the overall development of Africa, but also to create an enabling environment for the speedy implementation of others.  To enhance the impact of these projects, we propose that each of them must be derived from the five infrastructure sectors.

Our view is that in order to increase the pace of delivery of these five projects in the five sectors, each of them must be championed by a Head of State and Government who can play the key political and strategic role that should be provided at our level.

Political leadership and championing of cross-border infrastructure projects remain a prerequisite for our success.  I am well aware that, apart from political leadership, we also face serious challenges in terms of the limited technical capacity on the Continent, as well as financial resources constrains.   But we believe that active political championship will go a long way in mitigating these challenges.

I therefore wish to propose the re-prioritisation and consolidation of the Africa Action Plan infrastructure projects into five high impact trans-regional projects. We propose that each of the five projects be championed by a Head of State whose role will, among others, help facilitate the opening of bottlenecks for speedy implementation, and lead in resource mobilisation. 

The five champions will in their work require the support of the existing technical mechanism comprised of the AU Commission, the NEPAD Agency, the African Development Bank, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa with the NEPAD Agency as the focal point.

It would be desirable that by the time of the next Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee meeting each of the five champions, working together with the NEPAD CEO and the Agency, would have developed a clear programme of implementation for consideration by the Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee.   Thereafter, in each of our meetings, progress reports must be tabled by the champions.

In this respect and with your support, South Africa offers to champion the rail and road infrastructure sector.  Coming from the South, we believe that the North-South Corridor - involving SADC, COMESA and the East African Community – constitutes a good basis for a continental rail and road connection. This Corridor is aimed at trade facilitation and physical interconnectivity, including the development of transport and energy infrastructure and economic activity projects in mining, agriculture and tourism, which will support the infrastructure on a sustainable basis for the benefit of the countries involved and the three sub-regions.

I am aware that what we are proposing is a mammoth task.  But I am confident that we are ready for the task.  We now have a fully functional NEPAD Agency which is part of AU processes and structures. This will help in the implementation of this proposal. Also, I want to believe that through Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, the five sectoral champions will provide the AU Assembly with regular reports on the implementation of the projects.  I propose that this matter be a standing item on the agenda of future meetings of the Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee.

I thank you.

For more information, please contact Mr Mahlatse Mminele on 082-8899-432 or on his e-mail address: or Ms Zanele Mngadi on 082-330-1148 or on her e-mail address:

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
OR Tambo Building
Public Diplomacy Branch
Private Bag X 152

July 25, 2010

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