Focal area 3: Infrastructure development

As a priority, the Tripartite will coordinate and harmonise the Regional Transport Master Plans, the Regional Energy Priority Investment Plans and the Energy Master Plans of the three RECS as directed by the Heads of State and Government at their first Summit meeting in October 2008.
In order to reduce the costs of cross-border trade, it is considered necessary to address trade facilitation measures in conjunction with improving surface transport infrastructure in order of priority.

The North South Corridor (NSC)

The NSC Programme is a flagship programme of the Tripartite. It is a Model Aid for Trade Programme engineered by the Tripartite to implement an economic corridor-based approach to trade facilitation and reduction of costs of cross-border trade in Sub-regions. The project further prioritises access to adequate power supply to support the growing demand from industrial, commercial and domestic consumers within the Corridor hinterland.

A High Level Conference on the NSC was held in Lusaka, Zambia on 6-7 April 2009 attended by the Chairpersons of COMESA, EAC and SADC.  During the Conference, overall pledges for the prioritised projects amounted to US$ 1.2 billion. The Department for Foreign and International Development (DFID) was assigned the role of the lead development partner to mobilise the necessary resources for the project while the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) was appointed as Fund Manager.

Financed by DFID, the Trade Mark Southern Africa (TMSA) has backstopped the preparatory work towards the development of bankable projects for financing.

To date the following achievements have been realised:

a)    The MOU between the Tripartite Task Force and the DFID on the management of the NSC programme was signed in London in January 2010.  The MOU is under review to enhance the participation of other development partners in the Programme;

b)    The MOU between the Tripartite Task Force and the DBSA has also been concluded and signed for the management of the NSC Fund.  DFID contribution of UK£ 67 million has also been deposited in the project Account and marked as available to support the prioritised projects on the NSC;

c)    The Investment Committee established by the MOU in (b) above has commenced its activities to consider financing proposals for the prioritised projects.  In its first sitting, the Committee considered and approved a budget amounting to US$ 10 million for 2010;

d)    COMESA, EAC and SADC have already each recruited a Corridor Expert to fast track the implementation of the NSC and other prioritised corridor programmes;

e)    The first One Stop Border Post in Africa, Chirundu (Border of Zimbabwe and Zambia) was opened in November 2009 within the aegis of the North South Corridor.

f)    The EAC is in the process of finalising a One Stop Border Post model legal framework.  This draft has been shared with COMESA and SADC for purposes of harmonisation; and

g)    A meeting of the Infrastructure Committee of the Tripartite and the NSC Member States’ Road Authorities was held in June 2010 in Lusaka, Zambia to establish the current database and prioritisation of the planned road projects along the NSC.  The meeting agreed on the priority roads for which consultants have been procured to prepare all the necessary documentations before the projects are submitted to the Investment Committee.  Similar meetings are planned for the railways and energy authorities in the NSC Member States.

The Upper Flight Information Region (UFIR)

Another critical project of the Tripartite is the development of a seamless upper airspace across the three sub regions. The main objective of the project is to enhance efficiency in the management of the upper airspace to bring down navigational costs to air transport operators and improve civil aviation safety. Satisfactory progress has been achieved in this project as follows:

a)    EAC and SADC have finalised their main study on the unification of the Upper Airspace. COMESA is in the process of finalising its study. COMESA has agreed to support a consultancy for the harmonisation of the recommendations from the three studies;

b)    EAC has finalised the Terms of Reference for a follow on study on the sustainability of the lower airspace upon the demise of the revenue streams from the Upper Airspace and the extension of the study to Rwanda and Burundi and the US Trade Development Agency(USTDA) is considering a proposal for support; and

c)    Mobilisation of resources for the implementation of the UFIR is in process.

Liberalisation of Air Transport in line with the Yamoussoukro Decision YD:

The liberalisation of air transport across the COMESA, EAC and SADC region is ongoing. Within the three sub regions there has been marked relaxation on the capacity, frequency and designation restrictions. The YD coordinating Secretariat at SADC has been operationalised before the permanent secretariat is established at COMESA.

There are definitive challenges that confront the full liberalisation under Yamoussoukro Decision including:

a)    Low airport capacities;

b)    Lack of safety oversight frameworks outside the international entry airports; and

c)    Lack of an effective fair competition oversight.

Despite the above challenges, however, air transport connectivity in the Tripartite sub region has greatly improved with flight connections assured between most of the capitals of the Member States. Moreover, rapid improvements in air transport connectivity are visible between the eastern and the western African routes particularly linking these regions with the business centres in the Middle and Far East. The Tripartite is working on modalities to improve the capacity distribution and enhancement of competition through the Tripartite Joint Competition Authority (JCA), established by the Tripartite Summit in October 2008 to bring down the cost of air transport.

The Tripartite is also working on the enhancement of the safety oversight infrastructure. EAC, which has established a Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency, has in this context exchanged the protocol establishing the Agency with COMESA and SADC for faster harmonisation and establishment of the Tripartite infrastructure for safety oversight.


In the area of energy, the Tripartite has prioritised the construction of the missing interconnectors between the power grids in the sub region. One of these is the Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya interconnector. Through Tripartite coordination, an MOU has been signed between the three countries to fast track the realisation of this missing interconnector that would link the Southern Africa Power Pool and the Eastern Africa Power Pool. The process of resource mobilisation for this project has commenced.

COMESA-EAC-SADC-IGAD Infrastructure Development Conference  

One of the decisions of the Tripartite High Level Conference on the North South Corridor was the need to develop similar Aid for Trade programmes on the other priority regional transport and transit corridors.  In this regard, the Tripartite, in close collaboration with IGAD, and financial support from PRO-INVEST organised a major Infrastructure Development Conference in Nairobi on 28th and 29th October, 2010.  The Conference, with the theme: “Linking up Eastern and Southern Africa for Sustainable Economic Development” had the primary objective of considering key priority projects and programmes in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region on infrastructure development including transport, ICT, Civil Aviation and the mechanisms required for funding and investment as well as options for successful provision of services to achieve sustainable economic growth and development.  

The participation at the Conference included the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the European Union, PROPACO, Department for International Development (DFID), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Islamic Development Bank, BADEA, Infrastructure Commission for Africa, NEPAD and the four regional Secretariats among others.

  The Conference agreed on a priority list of infrastructure projects and programmes (on a Corridor basis) that are ready for implementation and which will be coordinated at the Tripartite level jointly with IGAD.  The realization and commitment on investment on these projects will be anchored at the highest political levels of the Member States’ Governments.  This level of support will be sought concurrently from the policy organs of the participating RECs.

The Conference was a preparatory event for a Tripartite High Level Investment Conference for the Northern and Central Corridors to be held in September 2011 where bankable projects and a project pipeline that will deepen regional integration will be presented and where financing for these priority infrastructure projects would be secured.