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THE Africa Union has promised to leverage on the longstanding economic partnerships between Africa and the UAE as well as showcase the continent-wide commitment to sustainable development through the AU Agenda 2063.
The AU Expo Commissioner General, Dr Levi Uche Madueke, who disclosed this at a TV interview on Newzroom Afrika said “for the African Union, Expo 2020 Dubai offers an opportunity to further entrench the relationship between the two region and to showcase, connect Africa as safe for investment.
According to Dr Madueke “We are maintaining a string ties with the United Arab Emirate and as a matter of fact, UAE understands the importance of the relationship with Africa and that is why they have invited the African Union (AU) to participate in the ongoing Dubai Expo 2020.
“Also we are going to capitalise on the mega project management skills that exist within the UAE and see how we can begin to assure connectivity between our private sector and the private sector of the region circle/circuit.
“It is important to point out that Africa is undergoing dynamic socio-economic and political transformation which the world is yet to know about and believe the time has come for us to take charge of our narrative and claim our rightful place at the global arena. This is the reason we are here, to tell our story in the best manner; the way we want it and the best way.
“First of all we are here to showcase Africa as open and ready for business, we will have the avenue of telling the world investment opportunities; showcasing our natural endowment and telling the world that Africa is secured place for investment.
Most importantly, throughout the expo, we will be looking at connecting Africa with innovators, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, business managers, research and development, tech financiers and their contemporaries across the globe with a view to build stronger partnership an concluding business deals.
African countries that will be participating here to bring out their best in them both from the southern, central, eastern western and northern regions of Africa will be coming here to showcase their prowess and make sure the world understands what makes them strong and the opportunities that exists in the countries in the regions mentioned and we will be looking forwarding to working with the regions as one.”
Speaking on the AU agenda, Dr Madueke said agenda 2063 is the African Union blueprint for development; you may recall that it was in 2013 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity; we thought that the time have come for us to set projection for another 50 years and that is why with the agenda 2063 we have map out seven aspirations.
The first on the agenda is prosperity, which ensures that we have inclusive and sustainable growth, secondly, Integration; to ensure that we work with our regions and countries. Thirdly; governance, to put in place what we call the African governance architecture to make sure that we promote good governance and the rule of law Fourthly is peace; we have also instituted what we call the African peace and security architecture to ensure that we monitor the situation in Africa and we have also created what we call the early warning system to make sure that any sign of conflict that is coming up, we will be able to arrest it before it escalate.
“Also we have culture. This year, we have the theme for the African Union: Culture and heritage-limbers for building the Africa we want. The sixth is People-driven; we want to make sure that we are the initiators, the originators of what we do, we want to be seen as that Africa that produce, generate and export, and we do no longer want to be that Africa that has been turn into a trading ground.
“And the last is influence; we want to the Africa that is strong, strategic and ready to take his rightful place at the global arena that is exactly what we are here to do and to tell our story the way it has never been told before.”
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The concessionaires complained of poor cooperation from state governments who mostly delay in meeting their own part of the agreement, for instance in the area of land provision.
Another major challenge they emphasised was the lack of narrow gauge rail lines in and out of the dry ports which they noted was important to make the operation of the ports efficient.
They added that access to funds also remained a major issue even as banks and foreign investors make unreasonable demands for assets and bank bonds before the release of funds.
The concessionaires unanimously stressed the need for the ports being constructed to be given the status of port of origin and destination and also to be registered with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) upon completion.
In view of the delay in execution, the concessionaires stressed the need for a new agreement, pointing out that an agreement started in 2017 between them and the NSC but it was yet to be cleared by the Federal Ministry of Justice on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
They however commended the ICRC for its intervention and also appreciated the NSC for their support so far, noting that they were confident that under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the contracts will be sorted out.
The concessionaires pledged their commitment to see the concession to conclusion and the ports operational even as two of the concessionaires, Equatorial Marine Oil and Gas Ltd for the Katsina ports and Dala Inland Dry Port for the Kano Ports declared that their ports will commence operation before the third quarter of 2022.
Managing Director of Equatorial Marine Oil and Gas Ltd, Mr Usman Iya Abbas, informed the ICRC team that the Funtua port was already at over 85 per cent completion and was ready to launch before the end of the second quarter of 2022.
“We hope to commission this project before the end of the second quarter and the ports will become functional immediately. We are lucky to have great relationships in the shipping industry and with major shipping lines.
Managing Director, Dala Inland Dry Port Ltd., Hon. Ahmed Rabiu, concessionaires of the Kano Inland Port also hinted that the construction of the container depot was already nearing completion.
He assured that the company was working assiduously to ensure project completion and take off before the end of March 2022.
On his part, ICRC’s Director of Contract Compliance Department, Dr Ewalefoh who chaired the technical session of the meeting assured the concessionaires of the continuous support of the Commission, charging them however to send a detailed update of the contract status reports to the ICRC.
The Ag. Head, Media and Publicity of ICRC, Manji Yarling said he further enjoined the other four concessionaires who were yet to make remarkable progress in their contract execution to emulate the milestone recorded by the other two who were finalizing their constructions, so that the ports can yield the economic benefits for which the concessions were granted.
While thanking the stakeholders for honouring the invitation of the ICRC, it was resolved that going forward, there will be periodic meetings to ensure that the projects are speedily completed.
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