Economic development and social transformation cannot be fostered efficiently in the absence of well
The Namibian Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein, has said that: "Economic development and social transformation cannot be fostered efficiently in the absence of well-developed and well-maintained roads. This is especially true for the developing economies and Africa in particular, an economy with high potential growth, which needs to be unlocked through a concerted investment compact in skills, technology and infrastructure development."
Speaking at a meeting for road maintenance funds, Schlettwein noted that road infrastructure is a key pillar in the logistics chain that facilitates growth and economic prosperity.
He said however, that intra-African trade is still unfortunately relatively low.
"In March last year, the continent launched its Free Trade Area, that is envisaged to span a market of about 1.2 billion people, with a combined GDP of some US$2.5 trillion. Trade corridor infrastructure is destined to play a pivotal role in enabling the expansion of intra-Africa trade in this expanded market. As financiers, we should strengthen partnerships and rise to this occasion to bring about investment in strategic road infrastructure to enhance continental integration and facilitate intra-African trade," he said.
"The development of sustainable conducive roads should be responsive to the needs of modernisation, aspiration of younger generations and the ever-advancing technologies. Terms such as smart technology with the drive towards implementation of artificial intelligence in the automotive industry, has a bearing on the needs to develop smart roads that are responsive to the needs of the motor vehicle of tomorrow," Schlettwein continued.
Namibia, which is strategically located, is investing heavily in improving the various transport corridors including the trans Zambezi, trans Kunene and trans Kalahari Road corridors.
Namibia’s road network has grown from 42 000 km in 1990 to 48 000 km by 2018, with the majority of this growth being bitumen-sealed roads.
"These and the continuous investment in the upkeep of our road network enabled Namibia to incubate quality road infrastructure that is ranked at 28th globally out of the 140 countries assessed in the 2018 Global Competitiveness Report.
“However, maintaining this road network is not cheap. With N$1.2 billion programmed for road maintenance alone in the 2018/19 financial year, this roughly translates to maintenance expenditure of N$76 000 per kilometre of bitumen road and N$11 000 per kilometre of gravel road," he explained.
Infrastructure Exchange Team.