Road Fund prepares for African Road Maintenance Funds Association General Meeting
The Road Fund Administration officially opened the Africa Road Maintenance Funds Association (ARMFA) – Southern Africa Focal Group Meeting (ASAFG) on Wednesday at the Hilton Hotel.
The four-day event is being held in preparation for the ARMFA Annual General Assembly and Annual General Meeting which will be held from 10 to 16 March in Swakopmund.
Chairperson of the Road Fund, Penda Ithindi, on behalf of the Finance Minister, Hon. Calle Schlettwein in a statement, said over the past two decades or so, the world has witnessed the rebirth of Africa, the African Renaissance that is anchored on its demographic dividend, growing consumer market, the improved governance index and macroeconomic management.
“However, the intra-African trade has not mushroomed by much and still remains low, therefore the trade corridor infrastructure is destined to play a pivotal role in enabling the expansion of intra-Africa trade in this expanded market,” he added.
He highlighted that as financiers they should strengthen partnership and rise to this occasion to bring about investment in strategic road infrastructure to enhance continental integration and facilitate intra-African trade.
“But there are key perennial issues meriting the attention of Road Fund Administrators, which include cost efficiency and funding for research, noting that benchmark cost prices for road projects are on escalation path and increase above inflation, value for money, ensuring that the quality of outcomes is commensurate with expenditure outlay, domestic expenditure multipliers through local participation in infrastructure projects and local procurement spend and alternative means of financing, given that the traditional sources such as fuel levy are inflationary and get eroded by emerging alternative means of energy,” he said.
Schlettwein explained that since Namibia is a sparsely populated country, the extensive road network is stretched over long distances, balancing between economic and social needs.
“Additionally, the low population density also means the fixed costs of road maintenance are spread over fewer road users and hence the user costs tend to be high,” he added.
He therefore urged the officials and experts in the road sector to find solutions both financial and technical that will ensure that the countries at large, become better interconnected, that people can be able to travel across borders and move goods needed for improved services, efficiently and cost effectively.
According to the minister, over the years total investment in the road sector has increased Namibia’s road network from 42000km in 1990 to 48000 km by 2018, with the major of this growth being on the bitumen sealed roads, therefore this and the continuous investment in the upkeep of the road network enabled Namibia to incubate quality road infrastructure that is ranked at 28th globally out of the 140 countries assessed in the 2018 Global Competitiveness Report.
“However, maintaining this road network is not cheap, with N$1.2 billion programmed for road maintenance alone in the 2018/19 financial year, this roughly translates to maintenance expenditure of N$76000 per kilometre of bitumen road and N$11000 per kilometer of gravel road,” he concluded.
The Africa Road Maintenance Fund Association, consists of 34 member countries to date, that are grouped into four focal Groups, namely, West Africa focal Group, Southern Africa Focal Group, Central Africa Focal and East Africa Focal Group.