COMMISSIONER PIEBALGS' REACTION TO THE COURT OF AUDITOR'S REPORT ON ROADS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
I welcome the Court of Auditor's special report on EU aid in the road sector in sub-Saharan Africa published today. I am pleased to see that the Court recognised the importance of the EU work in the road sector and the contribution of this sector to poverty alleviation and development. I'm also glad that the report shows that these investments, together with policy dialogue, institutional support and technical cooperation, have helped to ensure the sustainability of roads in the region
Roads can be a key factor of economic development and wealth; enabling the free movement of goods and people. Roads mean access to markets for farmers or businesses and offer access to health and education services to all who otherwise can suffer from lack of proper infrastructure.
That's why the European Commission has done a lot to improve road networks in sub-Saharan Africa. We have built 36,000 km of roads including some of the most important paved roads in the region such as the 500 km road which connects Mombasa (Kenya) with Kigali (Rwanda). With this project we have been able to reduce transport cost and time considerably which will benefit citizens, farmers and business in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. To a similar effect, thanks to our investment in the Central African Republic we were able to reduce travelling time from the main entry port (Douala) to the capital (Bangui) from 8 to 3 days.
The European Commission shares the Court's recommendations to focus resources in the sector where the greatest impact can be achieved. This ties in very well with our own Agenda for Change – EU's new blue print for development policy.
Therefore, in the future we will focus more on sustaining achieved results and supporting transport sector reforms. We will also promote infrastructure investment by combining EU grants with loans from public finance institutions and private sector in order to achieve a leveraged development impact.
As the report also recommends, conditionality and policy dialogue will continue to play a major role in support to the reforms necessary to ensure the sustainability of roads.
EU's aid doesn’t end once the road is built. We are also trying to help our partner countries to address the main causes of road deterioration, such as damage from the weather or vehicles being too overloaded, as well as helping our partner countries in finding an appropriate balance between maintenance and the expansion of their road network. However, the Commission shares the Court's view that partner countries should do more to ensure sustainability of road infrastructure.
The report's recommendations provide a useful opportunity to consider our work in this area, and will help us to better design and implement these new policies in the years to come.