Roads remain the highest mode of transport in Africa; they provide links for collaboration and movement of passengers and goods for business and leisure within the African continent; thereby generating great reliance for them to remain in good condition.
This was said by the President of the Republic of Mozambique His Excellency Eng. Filipe Jacinto Nyusi while delivering a keynote address during the opening ceremony of the African Roads Maintenance Funds Association (ARMFA) Annual General Assembly (AGA) hosted by the Road Fund in Mozambique.
He said Road Funds are entrusted to provide solutions in financing and maintenance of roads and to align themselves with new developments in the sector, adding that lack of good roads isolate people from access to basic services.
“Road Funds are best run independently so that they can perform their mandates to the best of their ability. They should therefore provide the needed competency to ensure that the roads are always in good conditions,” he reiterated.
The President indicated that governments are aware that Road Fund are faced with challenges ranging from Climate change, such as floods that destruct roads and bridges, further urging the AGA to come up with tangible solutions to these challenges.
Speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Public Works, Housing and Water Resources Eng. Carlos Alberto Fortes Mesquita acknowledged the AGA theme “Aligning Sustainable Financing to the Needs of the Road Sector in Africa”, adding that it is being discussed at an opportune time when Road Funds in Africa need to think outside the box and tackle toady’s road maintenance problems, in order for them to remain relevant.
He said ARMFA has kept relations amongst Road Funds intact over the years, and has been a good platform for exchange of information and knowledge on best practices from across all the regions, which comes in handy as countries adopt strategies that would suit their own situations.
On his part, the President of ARMFA Mr. Ali Ipinge, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Road Fund Administration, introduced ARMFA to the participants, indicating that the Association was founded in Gabon in 2003, then by 18 members. He said today ARMFA has evolved and counts 36 members representing about 2/3 of Road Funds in Africa.
He underlined the fact that there is a gradual decrease of fuel levy with the emergence of more efficient and electric vehicles which represents a huge challenge to Road Funds, hence it is necessary that Road Funds get engaged in alternative ways of mobilizing financial resources such as inland tolling as an alternative for funding streams for Road Funds.
He said Africa has a network of about 2.9 million, saying that sadly only 30 percent in of those are in good condition. He said more needs to be done to address the inconsistencies in the network, coupled with high road user charges which hinder regional integration.
He concluded by indicating that the user pay principle has proved to be of general value for the benefit of road users, for in countries where the Road Funds have been closed down, the road infrastructure is suffering and has deteriorated into bad state.
ARMFA is a non-profit making and non-political association that was founded in the year 2003 in Libreville, Gabon. The aim is to provide a platform and establish a network for experience and information sharing on leading road maintenance practices in Africa; to discuss and find opportunities on funding options and to promote and strengthen links between members of African Road Funds.