Hosted by Olawale Rasheed of the African Railways Roundtable, the webinar was hosted by the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD).
NEPAD said on Monday, 3 August 2020 that Raila Odinga, the AU’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, who chaired the meeting, challenged the continent to lead by example, stressing that “if the ‘Europe and North America could transform their rail systems back when they did, Africa can do better now.'”
Odinga noted the many rail developments across Africa and said the continent has spent a lot of time planning. Citing Zlecaf, the AU High Representative said transport logistics and interconnectivity were critical to the success of the project, denouncing the very low connectivity between Africans due to poor transport connection.
AU Commission Director of Infrastructure and Energy Sheikh Bedda stressed the strategic importance of high-speed rail for Africa’s development. He informed the meeting participants that the Commission was ready to move the process of implementation forward.
While noting the occasional disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Bedda said the commission leadership is committed to turning the pandemic into an opportunity, stressing that the commission is open to credible collaboration and partnership to make of the project a reality.
The African Union Development Agency-NEPAD is the technical arm of the African Union. The main mandate of AUDA-NEPAD is to facilitate and coordinate the implementation of regional and continental priority programs and projects and to promote partnerships, resource mobilisation, research and knowledge management. Through AUDA-NEPAD, African countries have unique opportunities to take full control of their development agenda, to work more closely together and to cooperate more effectively with international partners.