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Cablegate: President Wade Chairs Nepad Round Table On African

VZCZCXRO4183
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #0119 0291643
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291643Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9944
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 2209
RUEHNJ/AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA 0777
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC

UNCLAS DAKAR 000119

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/EPS, EB/IFD/ODF

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EFIN ECON PGOV SG
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT WADE CHAIRS NEPAD ROUND TABLE ON AFRICAN
INFRASTRUCTURE PRIORITIES

1. SUMMARY: A donor round table was held in Saly-Portugal, Senegal
on January 23-24, 2008 to discuss the priorities of the
Infrastructure Component of NEPAD. President Abdoulaye Wade of
Senegal is the chairman on this component along with those of
energy, environment, and information technology. The purpose of the
round table was to prioritize regional, interregional, and
continent-wide projects, create an institutional mechanism to
monitor progress, and to solicit donor support in financing priority
projects. No solid proposals were put forward for new funding so
donor pledges were mostly limited to current infrastructure
commitments. However, the Infrastructure Component presents an
ambitious framework for future trans-African and regional
infrastructure projects that could help increase commerce throughout
the continent. END SUMMARY.

GRAND PLANS AND SOME DISSENT
----------------------------
2. The short-term action plan of NEPAD's Infrastructure Component
contains 124 projects including both capital investments and
capacity building. Twelve of these projects have already been
financed at USD 2 billion. 17 additional projects are being
considered by the African Development Bank for an additional USD 2.5
billion. Two roads and railways, along the same trajectory, were
proposed during the round table as first priority: Dakar to
Djibouti (with N'Djamena as the "platform" for cross-continental
transportation links), and Dakar to Libreville, for a total price
tag of about USD 68 billion. President Wade also solicited support
for other projects to benefit Senegal, including bridges over the
Gambia River and between Senegal and Mauritania at Rosso, and
support for inter-modal transportation systems on the Senegal
River.

3. The Ministers in charge of infrastructure for about 20 African
countries were present and there was not unanimity in the
prioritization process. Island countries including Cape Verde,
Mauritius, the Seychelles, and Madagascar were unsatisfied, noting
that none of the projects targeted their countries. They argued for
information technology to be included as a component of
infrastructure to help them have better connections to the world.

4. While the new four-lane, cross-continental highways took center
stage, some countries proposed that emphasis be placed on finishing
almost completed corridors such as the Morocco-Dakar-Lagos, while
others were pushing for more coherence with existing roads and
railroads to reduce costs. South Africa proposed adopting a
public-private partnership approach as it has done in its own
country.

CALL TO DONORS
--------------
5. Though not quite a pledging conference, President Wade pressed
donors to outline their commitment to this initiative. Senegal's
official press reported USD 8 billion was pledged, but the source
and timing of such a sum was not evident during the conference. The
World Bank, African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank,
and the European Union are the main financial backers of
infrastructure projects in Africa and each was highlighted as a
major supporter of this NEPAD effort. Since there was no basis on
which to make pledges, donors presented their current infrastructure
funding, or those in the pipeline, as their contribution towards the
list of priorities.

COMMENT
-------
6. President Wade, who has been very critical of NEPAD in recent
months, made sure this NEPAD initiative implicated Senegal in many
of its ambitious proposals. However, after the conference,
President Wade faced some mild criticism from local commentators for
focusing on "pan-African" issues instead of focusing on Senegal's
own development needs. Still, thinking big and beginning the
planning process for major projects is an important step, especially
if there are, in fact, major donors lining up with financing. These
projects, if ever realized, could significantly improve commerce
throughout the African continent. However, African countries should
look to ways to reduce costs for infrastructure by prioritizing
those projects by actual demand and by looking towards innovative
solutions such as South Africa's use of public-private partnerships.


SMITH

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