Continental road funds must turn away from rigid funding

THE deputy minister of finance, Maureen Hinda-Mbuende, has called on the African Road Maintenance Funds to find alternative measures of collecting funds.

Hinda-Mbuende made the statement at the official opening of the executive committee meeting of the African Road Maintenance Funds Association (ARMFA), currently underway at Swakopmund.

Her remarks are in reference to countries with small populations that have extensive road networks stretching over long distances, like Namibia.

“This remains a challenge, true in almost all African countries. Due to a low percentage of the economically active population, the fixed costs of road maintenance are spread over fewer road users, hence the user costs tend to be high,” she said.

She stressed the importance of maintaining road infrastructure, which was the most relied upon mode of transport at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when air transport came to a standstill.

“The dependency of proper roads for delivering much needed medicine and other commodities to affected communities in our continent was put on the forefront in saving lives. The maintenance of this very necessary part in creating a better life for our fellow brothers and sisters is of high importance.

ARMFA is a non-political and non-profit continental body established in 2003 as a platform and network for sharing experience, knowledge, and information on the best practices of financing road maintenance.

Road Fund Administration CEO and ARMFA president Ali Ipinge said the organisation faces a number of challenges, such as the preservation of over 2,9 million kilometres of African roads as well as the transport sector.

Ipinge said the ARMFA and African Road Funds will look also look into issues that are impacted by their role, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“Are we investing enough resources to develop key road corridors, or maintaining at optimum levels the feeder roads? How do we manage various disruptors including pandemics such as Covid-19, the emergence of new energy and fuel-efficient vehicles?”

An executive committee meeting to be held in preparation of the 18th ARMFA annual general assembly will be held later this year in Dakar, Senegal.

Original story on The Namibian

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