Statement by Szabolcs Fazakas, Member of the European Court of Auditors, on the European Development Fund (EDF) contribution to a sustainable road network in sub-Saharan Africa
On 15 January 2013, Szabolcs Fazakas, Member of the European Court of Auditors, presented the Court's special report on the European Development Fund (EDF) contribution to a sustainable road network in Sub-Saharan Africa, which underlines that poor maintenance threatens roads in the region.
The Court concluded that the Commission is partially effective in its support for a sustainable road network in Sub-Saharan Africa. Partner countries visited by the Court do not do enough to ensure the sustainability of road infrastructure. Roads are affected to varying degrees by premature deterioration. Most of these countries have adopted institutional reforms, notably entailing the creation of road funds and road agencies, and made significant progress on road maintenance. However, many challenges remain to be addressed in all of them to ensure appropriate maintenance. Although spending on road maintenance has increased over time in all the partner countries visited by the Court, it remains insufficient to cover the needs. One main reason is the priority given in national budgets to the rehabilitation and upgrading of the road network rather than to maintenance.
The Commission is partially effective in promoting the adoption and implementation of the sector policy reforms that are required to address the existing obstacles to a sustainable road network in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Commission’s use of the conditions attached to its financial support has a moderate incentive effect. This also has an impact on policy dialogue, which the Commission does not use in to its full potential, although this dialogue has been instrumental in promoting progress in some areas, notably where the institutional framework and road maintenance funding are concerned. Technical cooperation funded by the Commission has been less successful than could be expected.
The Court recommends that in a number of respects the Commission should better focus EDF resources and make better use of conditions attached to its programmes, of policy dialogue with the partner countries' governments and technical cooperation, so as to maximise the effectiveness of the development support provided by the EDF towards a sustainable road network in Sub-Saharan Africa.
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