As the construction of the Kazungula Bridge finally takes off and the centuries-old dream of connecting southern Africa to the rest of the continent becomes reality, a perennially torn-up international road that leads to the Bridge will also be rehabilitated with money from the African Development Bank.
Through the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite, the bank has initiated process to rehabilitate the 64-kilometre Nata-Pandamatenga road. The money will be drawn from the NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility which the bank hosts. At this stage, the work is confined to preparation of feasibility studies, detailed engineering designs. The 111-km Martins Drift-Palapye road will also undergo similar process which is expected to take 10 months ÔÇô two months longer than the Panda one.
The two roads are part of the North South Corridor (NSC) in Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe. All told, five road sections in the three countries have been selected for rehabilitation. According to the bank, the principal objectives of this project are to carry out the prerequisite project preparation work to bring the five road sections to a ready state for investment financing. “The NSC is a joint COMESA-EAC-SADC Aid for Trade initiative and its primary goal is to reduce the time, and so the costs, of the road and rail transport. It is expected that once the five projects are prepared funds will be sourced to rehabilitate them to a state where they can facilitate the smooth and timely transportation of goods, services and people,” the bank says.
In 2005, three of Africa’s prominent regional economic communities (RECs) in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, East African Community and the Southern African Development Community created what is known as the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite.
The overall objective of the Tripartite is to strengthen and deepen economic integration in the Southern and Eastern African region, through harmonising policies and programmes across the three RECs in the areas of trade, customs and infrastructure development. In 2008, the Tripartite agreed to establish the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) which is envisaged to bolster intra-regional trade through the creation of a wider market, increased investment flows, enhanced competitiveness and development of cross-regional infrastructure. The Tripartite covers a region containing almost 600 million people and a GDP of over US$US1 trillion, while the 26 member countries of the Tripartite make up 57 percent of the population of the African Union (AU) and just over 58 percent in terms of contribution to GDP.