Comesa moves on East African corridor strategy

Advertisement placed for consulting firms to submit expressions of interest

Strategy and co-ordinated approach to developing Maputo Corridor
Develop Maputo gateway and transport corridor
Consulting firms have until October 15 to submit expressions of interest (EOIs) to develop a Maputo gateway and transport corridor strategy for East Africa, according to an advertisement placed by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), through the Mozambique Regional Gateway Programme (MRGP).
The strategy will form part of a co-ordinated approach focused on developing the Maputo port and transport corridors as part of an integrated system aimed at boosting trade.

The programme has two components, the first being a national component focused on improving infrastructure along the main trunk corridors of Beira and Nacala, by strengthening transport policy, planning and the regulations of the government of Mozambique.

The second component, a regional one, would help ensure that transport corridor developments translate into trade benefits for Mozambique’s landlocked neighbouring countries through lower transport costs.

The five-year MRGP is jointly funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) in Mozambique and the regional Southern Africa office. The regional office of the DfID will provide funds to support the regional component of the programme.
Plans to create an African free trade area (FTA) by integrating three existing African trade blocs consisting of 26 countries by July 2014 are gaining momentum. The aim is to create a free market of 525 million people with an output of US$1 trillion making it a global player.
Involved in the initiative are the governments of the countries presently organised in the existing East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). 
African leaders attending the African Union Summit in Kampala in 2010 observed that intra-Africa trade suffered in particular from inadequacies and inefficiencies of the region’s road, rail and port systems. In fact, President Jacob Zuma, in his capacity as the African Union (AU) Champion of road and rail transport infrastructure projects on the North-South Corridor, is on record saying that Africa needed to mobilise over $480 billion over the next 10 years for infrastructure development.
Two years after the Summit, the same obstacles are still dragged up, as they were  recently at the first-ever Truckers Forum held by the Federation of South and East African Transporters Association (Fesarta) in Sandton in late March, as well as at the Freight Intra Africa (FIA) 2012 Conference at the CSIR in Pretoria a week later. 
The two events virtually coincided with the release of the latest report on the Light Manufacturing Industry in Africa issued by the World Bank, which very much endorses the overall sordid state of inter-regional trade.

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