G8 Project is a Major Boost
The Nation, Mar 18
Nairobi, Mar 18, 2006 (The Nation/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) --
Eastern Africa is set to enjoy a major boost following a G8 initiative to rehabilitate the region's infrastructure.
The world's richest nations will bankroll a Sh50 billion programme to repair key roads linking the region and an oil pipeline to stretch from Malaba - on the Kenya-Uganda border - to Burundi and the Sudan.
For the Sudan, which is just coming out of two decades of war, the opportunity to exploit its vast oil deposits is a lifeline.
Access to cheap sources of energy could transform the region's manufacturing sector, which now depends on imports from the Middle East.
A better infrastructure will also be a boon to the East African Community, an econo-political structure seeking to amalgamate the region into one giant trading bloc.
One of the reasons that goods sourced within the region are expensive is the high transportation cost.
The tattered road network has also discouraged importers from using the local ports due to high costs.
But there are other improvements that the EAC states could undertake to make the region more attractive. Power remains expensive. Regional telephony costs rank among the world's highest.
Internet-related technology has considerably brought down telephone expenses in Europe and North America. This is a lesson that East Africa should learn.
The state of infrastructure is one the issues that investors consider before setting up shop and the region has to work on that if it wants to attract more business.
It is highly unlikely that donors will always earmark money to spare to support such ventures. Which is why the Eastern African states must work together on development programmes for their people.
Indeed, that is the only way to achieve prosperity in a short time with the few resources available.