The process of establishing African Corridor Management Alliance (ACMA)
Walvis Bay Corridor, Namibia
The implementation of ACMA Strategy will enhance the capability of economic corridors to strengthen investments for reliable and efficient production capacity and value addition in areas such as agroindustry and manufacturing, natural resource-based enterprises, large and small-scale industries, trade facilitation, tourism, schooling, and health facilities. The economic corridors will be instrumental in economic transformation that is built on strong forward, side stream and backward linkages, harnessing comparative and competitive advantages of the contiguous and integrated regions.
The role of economic corridors in promoting transformation and boosting Intra-Africa trade has increasingly become important. The corridors themselves are viewed not only as conduits to growth and regional integration but also as engines of regional and local economic development.
The initiatives under the economic corridors help create jobs, generate wealth, mobilize public and private resources and stimulate key economic sectors sustainably. An economic corridor can be understood as a conceptual and programmatic model to structure socio-economic responses to develop a territory, building on a linear agglomeration of population and economic activities along existing transportation infrastructure.
Several countries in Africa have given emphasis to economic corridors as key instruments of their economic development and transformation strategies. This approach was used within the framework of SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Plan, sprouting Maputo Development Corridor, which became a flagship corridor in Southern Africa.
Many financial institutions, including, but not limited to AfDB, World Bank, European Union and bilateral partners have shown interest in using corridors as the core strategy for supporting regional integration processes in the continent. The modality of public-private partnership is increasingly employed in the Corridor States to harness resources and expertise from private firms derived both local and multinational arena.
This strategy document emphasizes that the corridor-based development is rooted in the creation of reliable and efficient production capacity to utilize the natural resource endowment for economic transformation, built on linkages for enhanced regional value chain. The efficiency and effectiveness of the economic corridors are largely determined by the role played by the Corridor Management Institutions (CMIs) that oversee their operations.
In many of the regions, the CMIs have been instrumental in facilitating dialogue between corridor stakeholders and harmonizing procedures and documentation used in transport and transit operations along the corridors, resulting in reduced transit time and cost.
The role of CMIs will be strengthened within the framework of African Corridor Management Alliance (ACMA). This will involve strengthening the ACMA architecture and instituting a systematic recruitment of the members of the Alliance from across the development constituents. Information exchanges will be an integral aspect of the Alliance’s networking. The Alliance will support dissemination of new legislations by use of the network of CMIs connected by ACMA Website.
Capacity development will concentrate on training on comparative practices used in other parts of the world, advocacy on inclusive approaches and engagement with communities in the corridor development initiatives. Awareness creation aimed at changing the attitudes of officials at border posts from being only border-control oriented but also being trade facilitation agent, they will be given high priority. To energize joint ventures, the focus will be on identification of cross-border infrastructure investment possibilities and encouraging potential investors/financiers to commit resources.
Additionally, the strategy document illustrates the emergence of economic corridors in different regions of Africa. In the various sub-regions (Central, Eastern, Northern, Southern and Western) natural resource utilization, improved health care, trade facilitation, agriculture, and agro-industrialization for value chain are among the main employment generators and contributors to gross domestic product (GDP).
Many economic corridors target promoting value addition by harnessing the natural resource endowment and emphasizing production capacity for the expanded value chain in mineral resource, telecommunication, agricultural, livestock and forestry sectors. The strategy document therefore focuses on the potential role of economic corridors as an engine of economic transformation and growth in the continent.
The economic corridor initiatives require more financial resources over time. The Alliance strategy will be to emphasize the push for resource mobilization to ensure that the funding needs are met. Furthermore, efforts will be made to encourage continued support from the development partners and the Corridor States themselves.
Efforts will also be made to access some of the newer and specialized global funds, including those concerned with climate change, food security, Africa 50 Funds and Commercial Finance. The goal is to enhance the capability of economic corridors to promote investments and value addition to the natural resource use. Resource mobilization efforts will thus be put in place to meet these financing needs.
The strategy document is emphatic that the process of transformation from transport corridor to economic corridor pre-supposes a holistic intervention design that ensures a correct combination of both the soft and hard instruments. It explains that hard interventions include infrastructural elements including roads, ports, railways, maritime, aviation industry, energy and telecommunication networks, dams, irrigation infrastructure, market centers, warehouses, and other productive infrastructure. Infrastructure requires long-term investment and must be based on feasible alternatives, implying longer-term higher cost investments.
Soft interventions focus on institutional strengthening and human resource development aimed at capacity development to enhance reliable and efficient production capacity to achieve value addition in the economic corridors. The key aspect of effective economic corridor management presupposes shared development goals at national, regional and continental levels.
This necessitates a focus on soft instruments related to financial and risk management instruments, transport facilitation (e.g. shipping and port services, trucking, railways, handling, warehousing, customs, insurance, banking and freight forwarding) and trade facilitation that includes customs cooperation and incentives for the development of regional integration initiatives. The commitment, by all, on the regional and continental integration, is critical for the success of the corridor-based transformation.