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EU Technical Assistance to the African Union • Infrastructure Support Mechanism (ISM)
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Support to the transport sector has mainly focused on the groundwork for setting up the African Road Safety Observatory (ARSO).

At its April 2019 meeting in Cairo, the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Transport Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism (STC-TTIIET) recommended that the African Union Commission (AUC) should take the necessary measures towards the establishment and operationalization of the African Road Safety Observatory (ARSO)  under the Department of Infrastructure and Energy. The setting up of ARSO was conceptualized with the support of regional and international organizations such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank (WB), the International Transport Forum (ITF) and the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile).

In addition, in 2019, the “Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs” triggered the establishment of a Task Force on transport and connectivity with a specific cluster on road safety, to further guide the cooperation. The first recommendation of the Road Safety cluster was the creation of “an African Road Safety Observatory”.

The Technical Assistance to “The African Union – Infrastructure Support Mechanism” is supporting African Union Commission (AUC) through the recruitment of three consultants, to establish the African Road Safety Observatory (ARSO). The objective is to foster continental cooperation for generating a robust road safety database and analysis system to positively impact road safety policies, and influence and technically assist main actors responsible for road safety in African Member Countries (AMCs), in order to ultimately substantially reduce road traffic crashes.

The expected results are to provide a strategic plan for the development of the institutional framework and to identify resource options for financing ARSO.

The pandemic and the resulting disruption of supply chains has shown the critical role of infrastructure and logistics services in achieving resilience. Intra African trade is one of the key drivers to jobs, recovery and growth which is the short-term priority of African members states and institutions.

Some of the key challenges to intra African trade are tariff and non-tariff barriers, in some cases maintained to protect local manufacturing sectors.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) framework, initiated since 2018, is designed to address these challenges through negotiations where countries commit to liberalize specific sectors and tariff lines.

With the launching of actual trading under AfCFTA in January 2021, it is now becoming clear that even where tariff and non-tariff barrier have been addressed, the next bottlenecks for intra-African trade to materialize is logistics.

Trading of goods in Africa is mostly carried out through a combination of maritime, rail and road transport, which in their current state are either nonexistent, poor or very expensive.

Consequently, development of competitive multimodal logistics services is one of the priorities to boost intra African trade under AfCFTA.

After the initial focus on the aviation sector, the African Union has expressed the need for support in the other transport sub sectors, namely rail, maritime, road and the exploitation of transport infrastructure to achieve multi-modal logistics services.