Description of the Directorate:
The Directorate of Infrastructure
and Energy has the following major areas of responsibility: Transport,
Communications, Tourism and Energy. It is composed of two (2) Divisions,
namely, the Division of Infrastructure and Tourism dealing with transport,
communications and tourism and the Division of Energy. These are newly
established divisions and their staffing would, therefore, be concluded
after the forthcoming Summit of the African Union scheduled for Maputo,
Mozambique in July 2003. The Directorate enables the Commission to
play its main role of harmonising and promoting sound development
policies, strategies and programmes in infrastructure and energy sectors
In that regard, the Directorate
functions through an elaborate cooperation mechanism put in place
by the Union in coordinating and facilitating the work of the various
stakeholders in its areas of responsibility in the continent. The
network of relations in infrastructure and energy programmes extends
to partner organisations i.e. the ADB and the UNECA, the NEPAD Secretariat,
the regional economic communities (RECs), the relevant specialised
technical agencies of the Union and other African and international
technical organisations. The institutional arrangements utilised for
this purpose include the sectoral specialised technical committees
(STCs) and the specialised technical agencies (STAs) frameworks.
In carrying out its functions, the Directorate is guided by the mission
and objectives of the African Union in the area of infrastructure
and energy as outlined hereunder:
To promote collective efforts, at sub-regional, regional
and continental levels, for the accelerated development of infrastructure
and energy sectors with a view to enhancing growth and integration
of African economies.
- To harmonise policies and strategies for the expansion, improvement
and modernisation of infrastructure and energy facilities and
- To advise Member States through formulation of continental
policies and strategies
- To coordinate and facilitate the formulation and implementation
of regional and continental infrastructure and energy programmes;
- To promote joint improvement of technical, technological and
- To facilitate the improvement of safety, security and environmental
protection in relation to infrastructure and energy activities;
- To promote development of tourism in the continent.
The programme pursued by the Directorate is focused
on achieving a set of priorities relating to the outlined objectives
and realities on the ground. The current period is marked by accelerated
change of roles in matters of ownership, management, regulation, resource
mobilisation and operational modalities in infrastructure and energy
activities. In that regard, commercial interests and, in particular,
the private sector are gradually being accorded an enhanced role alongside
the public sector in the management of the economic and social infrastructure
with the major aim of accelerating sustained growth in those areas.
The complexity brought about by the role adjustment is posing a great
challenge to the Member States of the African union and their regional
economic communities (RECs) economically, socially and politically.
In cognisance of the aforementioned situation, the Directorate is
endeavouring to formulate and implement programmes that would enable
the AU member States to adapt to the emerging challenges and employ
the most current strategies and state-of-the-art technologies to bring
about sustainable development in their infrastructure and energy networks.
To that effect, the following issues are on the priority programme
of the Directorate:
- Liberalisation of infrastructure and energy markets;
- Utilisation of dynamic financing schemes for infrastructure
- Privatisation of infrastructure and energy undertakings like
the railway networks, airports, ports, telecommunications networks,
pipeline networks, etc.;
- Promotion of ICT development and utilisation;
- Capacity building in terms of acquisition of skills and technologies;
- Promotion of sound and responsible policies regarding the environment,
safety and security matters as they relate to infrastructure and
- Promotion of a unified telecommunications numbering area in
Among the programmes which are currently being pursued in collaboration
with partner organisations, is the liberalisation of the air transport
services in Africa on the basis of the Yamoussoukro Decision which
was adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in
2000. This programme is primarily aimed at raising the level of
efficiency in air transport in Africa in terms of liberalisation
of traffic rights, capacity, frequency and price as well as in minimising
both capital and operating costs of African Airlines.
As well, the Directorate is cooperating with the International Telecommunications
Union (ITU) and other relevant African and international organisations
in implementing a project for the promotion of the telecommunications
industry in Africa (INDAFTEL) with a view to ensuring the continent’s
effective participation in the global ICT revolution. Furthermore,
preparations are being made to study and implement a project for
the creation a unified telephone numbering area for Africa. This
is expected to facilitate enhanced interconnection of telecommunications
services among African countries.
In the pipeline, there are a number of activities that have been
on hold for sometime due to the ongoing operationalisation of the
Union. On top of the agenda, is a project for the promotion of the
use of new and innovative schemes for meeting the huge financial
requirements for the underdeveloped physical infrastructure in Africa.
Alongside this undertaking, is the endeavour to assist in the formulation
and implementation of the most appropriate strategies and modalities
for privatising capital intensive infrastructure and energy enterprises
like the railways, ports, airport, telecommunications, etc. The
aim is to encourage the private sector to undertake long-term investments
in the infrastructure utilities and, hence, improve the capitalisation
and management of those key assets to Africa’s development.
Also, the Directorate is looking into ways of assisting in strengthening
the ailing air transport industry in the continent following a succession
of misfortunes that have plagued it since the early 80s economic
downturn to the devastations of the September 11, 2001 terrorist
attacks in the US and the SARS threat that is still hovering around.
Besides the operational improvements expected as a result of successful
implementation of the market liberalisation programme of the Yamoussoukro
Decision, the issue of cost-effective fleet expansion is being explored.
The Directorate is in the process of exploring ways and means of
introducing a mechanism for leasing and purchasing aircraft and
associated equipment with better terms to African airlines.
It is further worth noting the idea and effort of the Directorate
to carry out a comprehensive study on the creation of a centre for
overhaul, repair and manufacture of containers as a means to contribute
to the promotion of the sea born trade of the continent.