THE African Development Bank (AfDB) has pledged its support to accelerate structural transformation, enhance resilience, and foster job creation in East African countries. This commitment is outlined in the Bank’s newly approved East Africa Regional Integration Strategy Paper (EA RISP) 2023-2027.
The strategy paper, endorsed by the Bank’s Board of Directors on May 8, highlights two key priority areas to achieve its overarching goal: (1) Enhancing regional infrastructure and (2) Facilitating regional value chains development.
In the first priority area, the Bank aims to invest in cross-border electricity interconnections to enhance connectivity and boost cross-border electricity trade. It will also provide support for regional solar energy initiatives through the Desert to Power program, as well as hydroelectric and geothermal energy projects to harness the region’s natural resources. Strengthening the East African Power Pool’s capacity and collaborating on regional electricity infrastructure initiatives such as the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program and Energy in the Great Lakes countries will also receive attention.
Through these investments, the Bank aims to increase the number of East African cross-border electricity interconnections from 7 to 9, while making the regional power pool fully operational. Additionally, the Bank will support cross-regional power pool interconnectors, including those between Eastern and Southern Africa Power Pools.
The African Development Bank will also allocate financial resources to multimodal transport systems, encompassing roads, railways, air transport, and inland waterways. Simultaneously, it will strengthen the capacity of transport management institutions and regional corridors. Particular emphasis will be placed on key corridors and feeder roads that link production centers to major markets, fostering intra- and inter-regional connectivity.
These initiatives aim to reduce transit times along strategic corridors, promoting trade within the region and under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Under the second priority area, the Bank will provide support for the development of regional value chains, focusing on sectors such as agro-industry, manufacturing (textiles and clothing), and mining. The Regional Integration Strategy Paper targets an increase in the region’s manufacturing value added from 9 percent in 2020 to 11 percent by 2027 through upstream interventions.
To ensure sustainable development outcomes within these priority areas, the Bank’s interventions will incorporate cross-cutting issues, including gender equality, fragility, climate change, human and institutional capacity development, and private sector development. In terms of capacity development, the Bank will offer technical assistance to national, regional, and continental institutions responsible for promoting regional trade, implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area, and developing regional public goods.
The implementation of the Regional Integration Strategy Paper is expected to yield three key outcomes: (i) a reduction in border crossing times along the Central Corridor from one hour in 2022 to half an hour by 2027; (ii) an improvement in the score on the Logistics Performance Index for cross-border trade from 53.8 percent in 2018 to 60 percent by 2027; and (iii) an increase in the proportion of goods and services traded under the provisions of the African Continental Free Trade Area from 0 percent of the region’s total trade in 2022 to 5 percent by 2027.
The African Development Bank’s East Africa Regional Integration Strategy Paper marks a significant step toward fostering economic growth, enhancing regional cooperation, and promoting inclusive development in the East African region.