DJIBOUTI, Republic of Djibouti
Private investors fear investing in infrastructure for the continent, warned a top African economist on Monday.
Carlos Lopes, former head of the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa and now a professor at the University of Cape Town, made the remarks in Djibouti to a forum on regional integration and private infrastructure investment.
Top officials from the Horn of Africa nation and other countries in the region, experts in the field, and students of higher learning attended the forum held on the sidelines of one-of-a-kind trade fair.
Risk perception has been preventing private investors from making crucial investments in infrastructure, which is the basis for regional integration, he said.
He called for government measures to mitigate risk factors to help attract the needed private investment in infrastructure.
Kontentinos Berhutesfa, a senior political counselor at the UN, argued that “governments are tied up in their own priorities” and pay little attention to the need for ratcheting up regional integration.
Some at the forum lauded the economic integration between Djibouti and Ethiopia, saying it can serve as a model to the region.
Ethiopian Ambassador to Djibouti Shamebo Fitamo Adebo told Anadolu Agency that the two neighboring countries have put in place necessary infrastructure to promote economic integration, citing the multi-billion Ethiopia-Djibouti electric railway line that went into full operation just last month.
Ethiopia, a country of 100 million people, almost entirely depends on the port of Djibouti for its fast-growing import-export transactions.
Djiboutian Economy and Finance Minister Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh told reporters that $12 billion worth of infrastructure investments are in the pipeline in his country to help promote economic integration with countries in the region, notably neighboring Ethiopia.
He added that while government-to-government relations between the two countries are at their best level to date, business-to-business relations remain the missing link.