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Zuma urges regional infrastructure

06-13-2011 10:18 BJT

JOHANNESBURG, June 12 (Xinhua) -- "There is no single country that can prosper on its own. The Free Trade Area will certainly help us (Africa) accelerate regional integration," South Africa President Jacob Zuma Sunday called on Africa heads of state to invest in building regional infrastructure.

South African President Jacob Zuma addresses the opening of the second tripartite summit of
the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), and the East African Community (EAC), in Johannesburg, South
Africa, June 12, 2011. COMESA, SADC and EAC authorities gathered in Johannesburg on Sunday
to launch negotiations towards the establishment of a Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFRA)
comprising the three Regional Economic Communities (RECs). (Xinhua/Li Qihua)

"We need to be absolutely clear. Removing barriers to intra- African trade will in themselves not lead to the realization of our full potential for growth and development," Zuma said as heads of state and government of member countries of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the East African Community (EAC) Sunday launched negotiations towards the establishment of a Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFRA) comprising the three Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

COMESA, SADC and EAC authorities gathered in Johannesburg for the second tripartite summit in line with the African union (AU) initiative which seeks to promote free trade amongst all African countries.

As the leaders are pushing for regional integration and TFRA it is clear that poor Infrastructure which encompasses transport, telecommunications, water and sanitation and power is one of the biggest factors keeping Africa from achieving its full growth potential.

"We must simultaneously design interventions that will build and production capabilities to fully take advantage of more open regional markets. We must redouble our efforts to build and rehabilitate the regional infrastructure that must underpin production and trade growth," President Zuma told Africa leaders.

Participants attend the second tripartite summit of the Common Market for Eastern and
Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the East
African Community (EAC), in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 12, 2011. (Xinhua/Li Qihua)

The leaders are expected to talk about and lay down time the frames for their secretariats to harmonize policies and programs of the three RECs in the areas of trade, customs and infrastructure development.

The establishment of a Tripartite Free Trade Area is expected to come with enormous economic potential of three RECs while marking a historical milestone in the integration of the continent.

Development of Africa's infrastructure is key component towards regional integration. Recent study indicates that, intra-Africa trade is around 10 percent of exports, whereas other regions such as Asia are closer to the 70 percent mark. Also, African transport costs are said to be around 12.6 percent of the cost of the goods, more than double that of the world average.

The most important aspect that investors consider when contemplating to invest in a country is the level of Infrastructure development. With the massive Infrastructure development of South Africa it is clear that this will create imbalances if other governments fail to quickly address the standard of their infrastructures.


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