Rail Group to EU: Start Global Gateway with Africa’s Integrated High Speed Railway

We call on the European Union Commission to adopt the African Continental Integrated High Speed Railway as a flagship take off for the Global Gateway Strategy. The continental railway domiciled with the New Partnership for African Development Agency is one of the critical projects endorsed by African Heads of state towards realisation of Agenda 2063.


An African Railway advocacy group, the African Railway Roundtable has called on the European Union to start the implementation of its recently unveiled Global Gateway Strategy with the African integrated high speed railway project that is designed by the African Union to interconnect landlocked African countries with their coastal neighbours..



The group in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday December 31st noted that the continental railway connectivity project remains the most critical and potentially impactful project that African leaders accepted as the most potent route to jumpstart the recovery and development of African economy.

The full statement titled “HOW WEST CAN SUPPORT AFRICA TO BRIDGE INFRASTRUCTURE GAP – AFRICAN RAILWAY ROUNDTABLE” is published in full below:



Abuja-December 31st: The African Railway Roundtable noted with deep interest the recent unveiling of the Global Gateway Strategy by the European Union Commission. The Global Gateway Strategy was described as a template for how Europe can build more resilient connections with the world, according to the EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen.

We also read that the European model consists of both hard and soft infrastructure, as well as sustainable investments in digital, climate and energy, transport, health, education, and research, she stated. The plan is tagged a joint approach of the EU Commission, member states, and European financial institutions, she said, adding that the private sector will also contribute to the process. It is noteworthy that the Commission President specifically justified the plan by noting that “Countries that have experienced Chinese investments need better and different offers”



To this end, the Commission informed that the EU plan will be well-managed, transparent, and will not result in unsustainable debt levels and that the Global Gateway would be a “true alternative” to the Chinese initiative, a trillion-dollar infrastructure network across the continents. According to the plan, the EU will provide €300 billion for infrastructure investments in developing countries until 2027.

While the operational details are still being expected, we want to first commend the European Union for specifically working out a plan to sustainably invest in global infrastructure development. For Africa, this is a welcome development as financing from China even if perfectly administered, is not sufficient to address the huge infrastructural gap that exist in Africa economy. The plegde to institute project financing within the context of sustainable debt structure is a commendable step. This is more so as the EU promises to target not only soft infrastructures but hard ones that the continent badly needed.

Having done a review of African economic space where transportation link is a major headache, having perused data that confirmed low transport connectivity among African nations and having consulted experts across several think tanks , we call on the European Union Commission to adopt the African Continental Integrated High Speed Railway as a flagship take off for the Global Gateway Strategy. The continental railway domiciled with the New Partnership for African Development Agency is one of the critical projects endorsed by African Heads of state towards realisation of Agenda 2063.


The project has undergone several stages including scoping study and identification of pilots projects. The EU may want to note that the continental rail plan has the strong backing of African Development Bank with the German Development Agency offering project preparation support. Updates on the project is available on this link: https://www.au-pida.org/news/update-on-the-african-integrated-high-speed-railway-network-by-auda-nepad/. The railway project is a multinational agenda that binds the whole of Africa together. Any infrastructure investment from West will be more appreciated by Africans if channelled towards this project.

We urge a meeting between the EU Commission and the African Union Commission with the leadership of NEPAD-AUDA agency providing updated briefings on the project. If the Global Gateway Strategy adopts the continental railway plan, it would have supported Africa to escape decades of connectivity disconnection and create a platform that will facilitate the successful realisation of the goals and vision of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Signed
Mohammed Sellah- Director
Olawale Rasheed-Director.


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